Brian Boyd (9
Oct 2009) Ada's first lines; Pontius:
May I just note that Jansy could have answered these questions
(and much, much, more) by checking AdaOline (http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/) and
clicking on Part 1 Chapter 1 and the Tolstoy references in the first
Nabokov essayed various titles for his revisited
autobiographical collection** and his preface ends with a verse on "ex Ponto." Like "Ponto,"
the name "Pontius" is related to the sea.
The editorial house mentioned in Ada's opening
lines ["another Tolstoy work, Detstvo i Otrochestvo (Childhood
and Fatherland, Pontius Press, 1858)"]
might be merely related to treacherous Pilate and to unfaithful
translators. Nevertheless it could
equally indicate, through Van's Memoirs, VN's nostalgic Ex Ponto (
his "Other shores", childhood & fatherland, exile).
* -Boyd on Pontius: 3.08: Pontius: See Darkbloom 3.01-08n. Pontius Pilate, the Roman
procurator of Judaea from AD 26 to 36, was judge in the trial of Jesus Christ.
See Mark 15:15: "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released
Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be
crucified" (King James Version). In the Revised Standard Version the phrase I
have italicized is rendered "wishing to satisfy the crowd." Cf. Nabokov's scorn
for translations that betray the text in the interest of "the conventions
attributed to the consumer" (EO I,vii).
**- Nabokov-Wilson letters, April 7,
1947, n.164: "I'm writing two things now. 1. a short
novel aboaut a man who liked little girls - and it's going to be called The
Kingdom by the Sea - and 2. a new typo of autobiography - a scientific attempt
to unravel and trace back all the tangled threads of one's personality - and the
provisional title is The Person in Question."
In September, 1950 Wilson states: " I don't like
your title for your memoirs" and S.Karlinski explains:" Nabokov must have agreed
for he changed the title of the book from Conclusive Evidence to
Speak, Memory within a year after its publication.
In March 19, 1951 Wilson returns to the charge:
"I don't approve of the title, which is uninsteresting in itself - and what is
the conclusive evidence? Against the Bolsheviks?" Nabokov, in his March 24
1951 response to EW writes: " A British publisher...I would
have thrown hims "Clues" ( or "Mothing"!) Before this paragraph, VN
mentions that he'd toyed with "Speak, Mnemosyne or Rainbow
Edge" and links it to SKnight's "The Prismatic Bezel." In July 30,
1954 we learn that VN's autobiography was published in a Russian version with
the title "Other Shores." (In Brazil we have different translators and distinct
titles: "Fala, Memória" and "A Pessoa em Questão."In Portugal the
title is "Na Outra Margem da Memória").
About the Russian publication Cf. Nabokov Studies 8 (2004)
199-203, where Vladimir Mylnikov reviews "Maria Malikova. V. Nabokov. Auto-bio-grafiia." begining
Malikova's monograph is the first extended Russian study of Nabokov's three
memoirs: Conclusive Evidence, Speak, Memory, and Drugie berega
(Other Shores). It is the first to cover the entire corpus of Nabokov's
autobiographies (not just the Russian Drugie berega or the English
Speak, Memory) and to treat them as integral parts of a single,
integrated organism. Malikova also examines the fictional biographies in
Nabokov's Russian novels. The volume concludes with the sixteenth and final
chapter of Conclusive Evidence (in Sergey Ilyin's translation), which
Nabokov omitted from all of the published versions. It appeared only in
commemoration of the author's centenary in 1999...Malikova begins with a
paradox: Speak, Memory, although "the ideal introduction" to the whole of
Nabokov's oeuvre, is, in a sense marginal to that oeuvre...