Annotations to Ada (3)

The Kyoto Reading Circle


Part 1
Chapter 11

68.23: The sportive dackel
Cf. fluid dackel: 37.13.

68.27: blood-soaked cottonwool
Apparently shows the lack of Blanche's ability in housekeeping. Boyd, however, suggests that it is the same "blood-soaked cottonwool" (in which Van is wrapped) in p.25, ll.30-31. Therefore, the dog was running in front of the family, showing the secret of the family, which Daniel Veen fails to notice. It may also suggest Ada's menstruation, since it is mentioned in I. Ch. 13 (80:27-28) that she "had had it already twice." This makes clear that she has reached sexual maturity and become a "grande fille" before her relationship with Van begins.

Part 1
Chapter 12

71.3: a denouncer's article
An indignant journalist's article. Van writes this article afterwards.

71.34: an Italian hotel garden
Cf. The Luzhin Defense (Vintage, 1990, 156), "those insects that light up" in a hotel at Streza on Luzhin's honeymoon.

72.23-24: in rows, files, and knight moves
Cf. Lolita Part Two, Ch. 9 (Vintage 1997, 192) "one of the latticed squaresc- a knight's move from the top - strangely disturbed me."

74.26: 'ghost things', also called 'fogs'
Cf. Fog-haze-ghost motifs in Lolita.

75.10: When I kiss you here
Not on the lips, but on another part. Cf. 95.2: Ada: "you kissed me here, on the inside..." The overall evocative eroticism of the sexual relationship of Van and Ada who are remembering this scene is continued also with the definition of "lips" in Part I, Ch. 17, 102.1-6.

Part 1
Chapter 13

77.6-7: red poppiescbotanical reality
The reality that the world of Van and Ada and the world of the reader share is limited to natural science, so that science is another term for reality. Therefore, "botanical reality" is a redundant phrase.

77.12: piney
Boyd interprets this as "pine-smelling," but it suggests the resin shine and smoothness of pine in the French translation, "fleurant la resine de pin" (Ada ou L'ardeur, trans. Gilles Chahine, Fayard, 1975, 104).

79.33-34: -all this is more readily imagined than described
As Boyd points out, the opposite is told on 246:25. The difference between the two scenes is that the passage in Ch. 13 is told without dialogue. It is easier to describe a scene by dialogue, but for Nabokov, a scene lends itself better to the imagination by descriptive discourse.

81.7: afterhaze
Nabokov's wordplay on "afterglow" but toned down because the passage deals with suicide.

81.13: other, radial, waves
Something like the grooves on the record?

82.1: a burn, a barn
Foreshadowing the fire in the barn.

82.7-8: Four years later
Anticipates Van's aggressiveness in 1888 when he goes after Percy and Rack.

82.10: tacking
Van is making a zigzag course.

82.20-21: Van treated us to the greatest performance we have ever seen
The point of view suddenly shifts to the first person plural.

83.26: telephone
Before "Lettrocalamity" and the banning of electricity, they could make a call from both Ardis Hall and the picnicking ground.

83.31: her husband's grandmother
Olga Veen.

86.06: googled
Staggered, originated from a cricket term, "googly, " a kind of curveball

86.20: Hot gouts of sun
Reminds us of Ada's "the shadow-and-shine" game, in which a player digs a hole around a beautiful "goldgout" (I, Ch. 8). The gout imagery moves on to that of Van's sexual desire: "he had to control lest a possible seep perplex her innocence" (87).

86.28-9: I felt there was something dreadful, brutal, dark, and, yes, dreadful, about the whole thing
Suggests that even in Ardis, a kind of paradise, something dark is hidden.

86.32: By the way, that "for all the world, " I detest the phrase
Why does Ada detest it? Possibly, the phrase is one of the cliches used in 19th century novels. Or Ada is particular about "the world," suggesting the problem of the worlds in the novel.

87.2: he felt it responding to every bump of the road by softly parting in two and crushing beneath it the core of the longing
"It" for her weight. "Parting in two" reminds us of her omitting underwear.

87.25-6: within its own terms
Within the work's terms. Cf. "In point of fact, all fiction is fiction. All art is deception. Flaubert's world, as all worlds of major writers, is a world of fancy with its own logic, its own conventions, its own coincidences. The curious impossibilities I have listed do not clash with the pattern of the bookc" ("Gustave Flaubert," Lectures on Literature).

[To be continued]
Published in KRUG 4. 1 (December 2002)

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