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VLADIMIR NABOKOV

ADA路OR路ARDOR: A FAMILY CHRONICLE

Illegally printed in 2010 by D.A. Neiaglov due to the lack of decent editions

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VLADIMIR NABOKOV

ADA路OR路ARDOR: A FAMILY CHRONICLE

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ADA OR ARDOR: Just as Ada as a whole parodies the grand tradition of the novel, its title parodies the fondness for women's names ending in -a as titles of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century novels (Samuel Richardson's Pamela, pub. 1740–1741, Henry Fielding's Amelia, pub. 1751, Fanny Burney's Evelina, pub. 1778, Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, pub. 1801, Jane Austen's Emma, pub. 1816, for instance). Its subtitle parodies not only the subtitles so popular throughout the same period, in novels such as JeanJacques Rousseau's Julie, ou La Nouvelle Héloïse (pub. 1761), but also the particular combination of a woman's name and a subtitled abstraction, in novels such as Richardson's Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded, or John Shebbeare's Lydia; or, Filial Piety (pub. 1755). ADA: Ada combines the Russian a, da, “Oh, yes,” and the rather less affirmative Russian ada, “of hell” (see 29.27-28, “teper iz ada (now is out of hell)” and 332.26, “iz ada, out of Hades”). Ada is also the first name of a character in Bleak House (1852-53) by Charles Dickens (1812-70), which Nabokov taught at Cornell and Harvard from 1950 to 1958. Ada Clare marries her cousin Richard Carstone; Ada Veen is the love of her “cousin's” (actually brother's), Van Veen's, life, and they live together for four and a half decades. Adah, in the verse tragedy Cain: A Mystery (1821), by Lord Byron, is both wife and twin sister of Cain, who becomes a pupil of Lucifer; Ada Veen is sister and wife in all but name of Van, a pupil, in matters of personal style and conduct, of his father, Demon. ARDOR: Ardor indicates the Russian rather than American pronunciation of Ada's name (demonstrated by Marina at 39.16-17: “She pronounced it the Russian way with two deep, dark 'a's, making it sound rather like 'ardor'”) in a manner that echoes the guide to the Spanish rather than American pronunciation of “Lolita” in Humbert's first paragraph in that novel ("the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth"). In Dickens's Bleak House (see previous n.), whose Ada's name is of course pronounced in the usual English way, Ch. 45 contains the sentence: "Ada had been telling me [Esther Summerson, the narrator] only that morning of her hopes that Richard might exhaust his ardour in the Chancery suit by being so very earnest in it." The doubling of “Ada” and “Ardor” prefigures the doubling of, for instance, Antiterra and Terra, Old World and New World, Aqua and Marina, Ada and Van, Ada and Lucette, throughout the novel. The Russian “Ada” and the American spelling of “Ardor” specifically prefigure the Old-World/New World or transatlantic doubling motif.

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FAMILY·TREE Prince Vseslav Zemski 1699–1797

Ivan 1842–1862

m. 1770

Princess Sofia Temnosiniy 1755–1809

Peter 1722–1832

Olga 1773–1814

m. 1824

m. 1793

Mary O’Reilly 1806–1850

Erasmus Veen 1760–1852

Daria (Dolly) 1825–1870

Dedalus 1799–1883

Ardelion 1800–1848

m. 1840

m. 1837

m.

Ivan Durmanov 1801–1872

Countess Irina Garin 1820–1838

Mary Trumbell ?–1838

Marina 1844–1900

Aqua 1844–1883

Dementiy (Demon) 1838–1905

Daniel 1838–1893

m. 1871

m. 1869

m. 1869

m. 1871

Daniel Veen

Dementiy Veen

Aqua Durmanov

Marina Durmanov

Ivan (Van) 1870—

Adelaida (Ada) 1872— m. 1893 Andrey Vinelander 1865–1922

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Lucinda (Lucerre) 1876–1901


A FAMILY CHRONICLE: The second subtitle evokes the famous Russian novel Semeinaia khronika (A Family Chronicle, pub. 1856), by Sergey Aksakov (1791-1859). The raw frontier life and the emphatic Russianness of Aksakov's forebears could hardly be more different from the decadent international sophistication of the Veens. See also 150.19. FAMILY TREE This family tree presents the official version. The following diagram records the actual relationships. Single lines mark official relationships, double lines the actual relationships behind official ones. Note that Ada and Van are real brother and sister, putative first cousins (since Aqua and Marina are sisters), putative second cousins (since Demon and Dan are first cousins) and putative and real third cousins (since Demon and Dan are second cousins to Marina and Aqua). Just as the foreword-translation-commentary-index of Nabokov's Eugene Onegin (completed 1958) inspired the structure of Pale Fire (begun in its present form in 1960), so the "Pedigree of Russian Territorial Princes in Relation to The Song of Igor's Campaign" in Nabokov's translation of The Song of Igor's Campaign (completed 1959) seems to have planted the seed of this Family Tree in Ada (begun in its present form in 1965). It may also be relevant that, as Siccama and Weide note (24), there is a somewhat entangled "Duveen Family Tree" in the autobiography of James Henry Duveen, The Rise of the House of Duveen (1957) (see 4.16n below). Individual names in Ada's Family Tree are glossed as they appear in the body of the novel, but some patterns unique to the family tree should be pointed out: First, Russian Zemski ("earthly") derives from the root zem, "earth, land" (as in zemlya, "earth, land,"; zemskiy, zemnoy "earthly") and Temnosiniy, "dark blue," is the "traditional epithet for the sky" (Johnson 1985:129). In this sense the Veen family tree evokes old cosmogonies, as if the Veens represented a whole world--as in some sense they do.

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Specifically the beginning of the family tree with a Zemski and a Temnosiniy (and the bracketing of the first chapter with these names: 3.10, 9.14-18) evokes the myth of Terra and Cœlus, Earth and Sky, most pertinently summarized in the following excerpt from the novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852), by Herman Melville (1819-91), which Nabokov alludes to in Lolita I.9, and which plays with the shadow of brother-sister incest between the American aristocrat Pierre Glendinning and his illegitimate half-sister, Isabel Banford. In a dream-vision Pierre sees an outcrop on his old family lands as representing "Enceladus the Titan, the most potent of all the giants, writhing from out the imprisoning earth . . . that deathless son of Terra" (Pierre, in Herman Melville, Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man, Uncollected Prose, Billy Budd, Sailor, ed. Harrison Hayford [New York: Library of America, 1984], XXV.iv, 400), then ruminates on the fable: "Old Titan's self was the son of incestuous Cœlus and Terra, the son of incestuous Heaven and Earth. And Titan married his mother Terra, another and accumulatively incestuous match. And thereof Enceladus was one issue. So Enceladus was both the son and grandson of an incest; and even thus, there had been born from the organic blended heavenliness and earthiness of Pierre, another mixed, uncertain, heaven-aspiring, but still not wholly earthemancipated mood; which again, by its terrestrial taint held down to its terrestrial mother, generated there the present doubly incestuous Enceladus within him; so that the present mood of Pierre--that reckless sky-assaulting mood of his, was nevertheless on one side the grandson of the sky." (XXV.v, 402) Several names here are linked with famous names in the history of the novel: "Dolly" recalls Dolly Oblonsky, in Anna Karenin (see 3.09n3), "Dedalus" Stephen Dedalus in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses (see Edelnant 27), and "Temnosiniy," in the light of Van's comments at the end of the first chapter (see 9.14-30 and nn.), the Guermantes family of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu--thus connecting the three branches of the novel, the Russian, English and French, which formed the platform for Nabokov's own work. [xiii]: Mrs. Ronald Oranger is Violet Knox (576.01). This editorial note seems to identify the intrusive yet self-effacing "Ed." as Ronald Oranger himself. Apart from the pun on editor as “arranger,” the echo of forename and surname in the editor's name seems to echo the name of the fictional editor of Humbert's confessions in Lolita, "John Ray, Jr." (the -ohn ray jr resounds in "oranger") and of the real editor of the Annotated Lolita, Alfred Appel, Jr. (the "apple" in "Appel" becomes an orange). Appel, Nabokov's student at Cornell in 1954, became a friend of his former teacher in 1966 and began editing the Annotated Lolita, with Nabokov's help, in 1967. MOTIF: COMPOSITION: Editor.

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Ada or Ardor test