Going back to former query on the Durmanovs: “There’s certainly a non-explicit link between the Durmanov’s and the Veen’s, even before the two Durmanov girls married the Veen cousins. Can this hidden ancestry reveal anything about Lucette?”


Today, by chance, I found another interesting informations, in BB’s Ada Online.

3.07-13: Tolstoy . . . Van’s maternal grandmother Daria (“Dolly”) Durmanov was the daughter of Prince Peter Zemski, Governor of . . .  an American province . . . who had married, in 1824, Mary O’Reilly, an Irish woman of fashion: In view of the conjunction of the names “Tolstoy,” “Daria (‘Dolly’),” “Durmanov,” “Zemski” (an obvious variation on the name of Pushkin’s friend and fellow poet Prince Peter Vyazemski: see 3.10n), and the American theme, it seems worth noting, as Alexey Sklyarenko proposes (Nabokv-L, December 11, 2012), the connections between these names in Pushkin’s time [  ].
Sklyarenko writes: “In his poem Tolstomu (1818) addressed to Count Tolstoy Amerikanets Vyazemski mentions myatezhnykh sklonnostey durman (the drug of rebellious inclinations) hurling Tolstoy iz raya v ad, iz ada v ray (from paradise to hell, from hell to paradise):” [  ] (ll. 1-7) Note the “iz ada” in line 7, echoed in Ada 29:26-27: “My sister’s sister who teper’ iz ada (‘now is out of hell’).”

It’s impossible for me to figure out the significance of this “durman” drug “for rebellious inclinations,” in relation to the Durmanov family in general, or, as I see it, in relation to sleep drugs*.


A second retrospect: Returning to “grouses” and cages in ADA:    “Marina had swooped upon him in a public park where there were pheasants in a big cage” (I,p.36)  …”Van, as he recalled the cage in the park and his mother somewhere in a cage of her own, experienced an odd sense of mystery as if the commentators of his destiny had gone into a huddle.”(I,p.37).

Cf. John Shade’s ornithologist parents (line 72) and his definition of life,line 105 ( some time after describing the pheasant’s marks on the snow, lines 20/29):” My picture book was at an early age/ The painted parchment papering our cage:/…/  For we are most artistically caged.”
Are these “cages” connected to the hazel-hen or to Shade’s daughter Hazel, and how?


* - I cannot remember if I’m bringing up this relation solely because of  my familiarity with romance languages, Portuguese in particular where Dormire / Translation: To sleep / Main forms: Dormio, Dormire, Dormivi, Dormitus” becomes “durma” in the present simple, imperative forms  and in several other tenses.
I ignore why this change occurs in Portuguese and, besides, there’s no reason to suppose that Nabokov associated Durmanov to Dormilona and dormire.



“She developed a morbid sensitivity to the language of tap water – which echoes sometimes (musch as the bloodstream does predormitarily) a fragment of human speech lingering in one’s ears…” I,3  “The mind could hardly grasp the fact that this very morning, at dawn, a fey character out of some Dormilona novel for servant maids had spoken to him, half-naked and shivering, in the toolroom of Ardis Hall.” I,42 “The length of the journey varied according to Van’s predormient mood when at Eric’s age he imagined the landscapes unfolding all along his comfortable, too comfortable, fauteuil.” II,3.



There’s a particular plant, too, related to sleep, designated by “dormideira” in Portuguese, mentioned by Nabokov as “Dormilona”

Cf. wiki: “Mimosa pudica (from Latin: pudica "shy, bashful or shrinking"; also called sensitive plant, sleepy plant and the touch-me-not), is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, to protect them from predators, re-opening minutes later. The species is native to South America and Central America, but is now a pantropical weed.”


Btw: another precious adverbial adaptation for my incipient collection: “predormitarily”


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