Annotations to Ada (5)

The Kyoto Reading Circle

With Brian Boyd's Corrections & Comments

Usually, the ADA Forum participated in by Brian Boyd and the Kyoto Reading Circle occurs in cyberspace, members exchanging their views on the circle's most recent annotations to a few chapters of Nabokov's Ada through the internet. On December 6, however, we had the fortune of having Professor Boyd participate in the Kyoto Reading Circle in person as one of the events scheduled during his stay in Japan.
Professor Boyd's interchange with the members about the circle's annotations to the chapter 17 to 19 as well as about the chapter 26 is roughly given below.

The following members of the Kyoto Reading Circle are equally responsible for the annotations here: Chizuko Inoue, Gen'ichiro Itakura, Satoko Ito, Izumi Matoba, Maya Minao, Shoko Miura, Yuriko Morita, Akiko Nakata, Keiko Nishiyama, Sumi Ota, Tadashi Wakashima, Motoko Yoshikawa.
Page and line references are to the Vintage International edition.

Part 1
Chapter 17

102. 1 - 2: fleshy folds:
Cf. Chapter 19 (118:15) Intentional suggestion of the female sexual organ.

103. 10 - 11: be a goblin-sized Gulliver and explore that cave:
Nabokov may or may not have seen Richard O. Fleischer's film, "Fantastic Voyage" (1966) about a voyage inside the human body, but he would have known of it. Whatever else he does, Swift's Gulliver does not enter a human body. In Ada p. 582, in a passage about films, an actress named Gedda Vitry becomes microscopic and dances nude in "the charmed circle of the microscope like some lewd elf," (a circular vision) which also recalls Fleisher's film.

103. 21 - 104. 32:
Van analyzes Ada's face in detail as Poe did in "Ligeia." When Van compares Ada's nose and skin with Lucette's, he lists their ages repeatedly, specifying the years when he has seen them.

104. 6: marble death:
contrasts with life images such as lips and Ada's bloody scratching.

104. 19: deified:
a palindrome

104. 25: the diminutive of her name in the accusative case:
The diminutive of Adelaida is Adachka, and Adachka in the accusative case is Adachku, which is rhymed with "v skladochku" in the same sentence.
Boyd: The proper spelling would be "Adochka" and "Adochku," not "Adachka" and "Adachku."

104. 33: (forget that nail-biting business):
It could be an innuendo against Freud.

105. 15 - 16: the pre-tunnel toot of the two-two to Toulouse from the hill:
The "pre-tunnel toot" could be an echo from "A Guide to Berlin" in which the name "Otto" was written on the snow covering a tunnel-like pipe.
Today someone wrote "Otto" with his finger on the strip of virgin snow and I thought how beautifully that name, with its two soft o's flanking the pair of gentle consonants, suited the silent layer of snow upon that pipe with its tow orifices and its tacit tunnel.
The sound "two" or "too" is repeated four times, attesting to the doubling theme. Also, "Toulouse" recalls the "Two-Lice" newspaper (Toulouse Enquirer) Dan reads in Ada Part I, Chapter 14. Cf. 93. 3-4: I'd like to see that Two-Lice sheet too when Uncle is through with it.
Boyd: I'd like to add the obvious point that "two-two" is the sound of a train's toot-toot, but also that the long "o"s are in counterpoint with the "t"s which mimic the clackety-clack of the train on the rails.

105. 19-20: the great poet and memoirist born between Paris and Tagne:
It suggests Baudelaire and Chateaubriand. Baudelaire was born in Paris while Chateaubriand was born in Tagne.

105. 21: fades into:
One instance of Nabokov's use of film techniques and camera work.

105. 22-26: Mon enfant, ma soeur:
A similar poem, which is longer and more nostalgic, is in Part I, Chapter 22.
Boyd: It echoes Chateaubriand's poem "Romance a Helene," of course, but is also in part a parodic homage to Baudelaire's "L'invitation au voyage."

105. 23-24: (When will film-makers reach the stage we have reached?):
One of the instances of Van and Ada boasting of outdoing film makers.

105.24-25: circular marblings she shared with Turgenev's Katya:
describes the similarity of Ada's and Katya's hands. Boyd's annotation in The Nabokovian No. 46、p. 57 translates Turgenev's passage: "Her voice, the down on her whole face, her pink hands with whitish little circles on her palms." Nabokov's own translation in Lectures on Russian Literature is similar: "Her voice and the bloom on her whole face, and her rosy hands with the whitish circles on the palms,..." (A Harvest Book, 85). The English version of Fathers and Sons Nabokov probably used was Constance Garnett's translation (Fathers and Children, 1895), which he so often derided. The passage referred to in Garnett's translation reads as follows: "The voice, and the bloom on her whole face, and the rosy hands, with white palms,…" Neither is Rosemary Edmonds' translation in the Penguin edition (Fathers and Sons, 1965) more detailed . Nabokov's mention of Fathers and Children as his source in the Vivian Darkbloom notes was probably meant to emphasize the inaccuracy of Garnett's translation.

107.3-4: the attack in the crepuscule:
cf. Baudelaire, "Le crepuscule du matin"
Boyd: Though there is a poem of this name by Baudelaire, alluded to in Ada (176.04-05, 430.20-22) and elsewhere, if Baudelaire is relevant here the more pertinent poem is "Le crepuscule du soir" (1852).

107. 19: Samarkand satin:
"Samarkand satin" could suggest Richard Francis Burton's The Arabian Nights. Burton also translated Sheik Nefzawi's The Perfumed Garden, an ancient manual of Arabian erotology. In Ada a review of Van's novel mentions the influence of an obscene ancient Arab, expounder of anagrammatic dreams, Ben Sirine, thus transliterated by Captain de Roux, according to Burton in his adaptation of Nefzawi's treatise on the best method of mating with obese or hunchbacked females (The Perfumed Garden, Panther edition, p. 187, a copy given to ninety-three-year-old Baron Van Veen by his ribald physician Professor Lagosse). [Ada Part II, Chapter 2, p. 344]
In Nabokov's Garden Bobbie Ann Mason points out that "The Perfumed Garden, especially because of its title and its association of a garden with erotica (the genitals are metaphorically the garden of pleasure), occupies an important place in Ada." [Bobbie Ann Mason, Nabokov's Garden (Ardis, 1974) 165.]

Part I Chapter 18

109. 1: dot-dot-dotage:
Pigmented dots of skin in old age? Also, Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) whose Alice in Wonderland Nabokov translated into Russian, calls himself Do-do Dodgson to Alice Liddell because of his own stuttering. Dodo is Lewis Carroll's alter ego. The do-do bird is a well-known helpless and extinct species.
Boyd: Nabokov used to refer to the spots of dark skin in old age as "liver spots."

109. 4: a scholarly excitement in establishing the past evolutions (summer, 1884) of their love, the initial stages of revelations, the freak discrepancies in gappy chronographies":
The artistic revelation is compared to the revelation of Van and Ada's love throughout the novel. See also note to 113.16 below.

110. 1: possibly unnatural, probably unique:
Unnatural and unique, implying the incestuous relationship of the two?

110. 24: a nasty young satyr with clumsy hooves and an ambiguous flue pipe:
Nabokov might have had in mind the eclogue by Mallarme, "L'Apres Midi d'un Faun" whose phrases he also alludes to in Bend Sinister and The Gift. A possible allusion to the work is found in the last chapter of Ada, p.584, "the purest sanglot."

110. 25: an ambiguous flue pipe:
Ambiguous as to its use, considering his tender age.

111. 27: Paul J. Gigment:
In addition to the allusion to Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin (cf. p. 584 "a local Gauguin girl") which Brian Boyd has mentioned, a possible allusion to J. Paul Getty, art collector, and perhaps Jean-Paul Sartre?

112. 22: the artery could become awfully long:
Cf. Chapter 10 "long, long. . . ."Ada talks about something "long" whose subject is not revealed within the chapter.

112. 3: I'm certainly not making offensive comparisons:
Comparison with Van.

113. 16: I remember the cards. . . Fingertips stalking gravity:
Overcoming of the gravity is compared to the triumph over time, to the reverse perception of things, i.e., the artistic revelation. Cf. Part I, Chapter 30, p.184: "It was Ada's castle of cards. It was the standing of a metaphor on its head not for the sake of the trick's difficulty, but in order to perceive an ascending waterfall or a sunrise in reverse: a triumph, in a sense, over the ardis of time. Thus the rapture young Mascodagama derived from overcoming gravity was akin to that of artistic revelation."

113. 20: a Russian splash gesture of surrender:
Cf. Chapter 4 of Pnin (Penguin 1997, p. 35) where Pnin demonstrates a number of typically Russian gestures: "the one-hand downward loose shake of weary relinquishment; the two-hand dramatic splash of amazed distress…"

Part I Chapter 19

114. 2: the Burning Barn:
A mocking allusion to the celebrated Faulkner story, "Barn Burning," which Nabokov most likely detested.

114. 2-3: did the Burning Barn come before the Cockloft or the Cockloft come first:
A joke on the old riddle: "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" Note that the chicken is changed to the cock here.
Boyd: I'd missed that. And since you have ribald minds, we might notice that Van's cock certainly comes first, at pp. 120-21, where at 121.03-06 the "clock struck" and "steady clockwise launch" of Van's virile revival also pun on "cock."

114. 10: No, she was fast ablaze-I mean, asleep:
The slip of the tongue foretells the heightened sexual arousal in this episode.

114. 16: lost a miniver-trimmed slipper:
To add to Boyd's note, "Miniver" is, according to French lexicographers, a fur of petit-gris, a variety of the common squirrel.

114. 17: Ashette:
Ash+ette = Cinder+ella.

115. 31: teleseats:
Probably telegas (Russian cart with four wheels) reshaped into carriages.

116. 16-17: typical raft ripples like fire snakes in Japan:
Source unknown. Hokusai?
Boyd: I'm not sure why, but lacquer work comes more to my mind.

116. 31: ignicolists:
A very unusual word, meaning fire-worshippers.

116. 28-31: Ada in her long nightgown passing by with a lighted candle in one hand and a shoe in the other as if stealing after the belated ignicolists. It was only her reflection in the glass:
Merging of the inside and the outside upon the glass pane which reminds us of the opening stanza of "Pale Fire." Cf. Maurice Couturier's essay on Ada's eroticism in the Zembla site, "The Poerotic Novel: Nabokov's Lolita and Ada."

117. 1-2: a hundred barns blazed in her amber-black eyes:
The theme of merging reflections continues.

117. 5-6: Ramses the Scotsman:
Here the Egyptian theme begins with the accompaniment of "tartan lap robe" considered as a "toga."

117. 14-15: They saw the candlelit window and decamped, the smaller one walking a reculons as if taking pictures:
This passage ominously foreshadows Kim's blackmailing by sending photos of Van and Ada.

117. 25-26: I thought old Mr. Nymphobottomus had been my only predecessor:
Van alludes to their frequent guest, Paul J. Gigment, who "drew his diminutive nudes invariably from behind." (111. 21-22)

118. 7-8: Not now, it's not a nice sight right now and it will be worse in a moment (or words to that effect):
"Now" in this passage is in the discourse time, not in the story time. Presumably, aroused by the memory, Ada starts to fondle Van's penis. And he hurriedly protests, knowing that it is not in such a good shape as it was at the time of the Burning Barn. Van's reply in the story time, "Wait, not right now," (118. 13) splendidly and poignantly contrasts the conditions he was and is in.
Boyd: I must object to this reading. There is no reason why we should interpret Van's phrase "Not now" as referring to anything other than the time in the story.
(Note: Since Tadashi Wakashima, who played host to this session, had stepped out a little before this comment was made, and since the idea of Van's reference to the discourse time had been Tadashi's contribution, we agreed to wait for the outcome of this argument after they had an internet exchange between them later.)

119. 24-25: Her index traced the blue Nile down into its jungle and traveled up again:
The Egyptian theme continues.

119. 30: 'Squeeze, you goose, can't you see I'm dying":
In light of the Egyptian theme, Van's words have a certain echo from Antony's famous cry, "I am dying Egypt, Dying," in Antony and Cleopatra. The effect here is, of course comical.
Boyd: Well spotted. In view of the Nile theme, in relation to Van's penis, one might also wonder if Nabokov is thinking of Cleopatra's question to the rustic who brings her the asp concealed in a basket: "Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there, That kills and pains not?" and the rustic's parting comment, "I wish you joy o' the worm" (5.2.243-79).

121. 18-19: a dictionary of secret diminutives was to be based and go through many revisions till the definitive edition of 1967:
This is the last recorded date of Van and Ada's lives when they were writing their narrative in their first draft.

122. 6: rattled a yellow-blue matchbox:
Van's action finely bridges the past ("He chose the second course, rattled a matchbox…" (115. 9) and the present.

122. 12-13: Summer 1960? Crowded hotel somewhere between Ex and Ardez?:
Uncertain memory about time. Cf. 114. 7: "July 28? August 4?"

Session on Part I Chapter 26

Brian Boyd
As for my general comments for Chapter 26, despite my recent disagreement with Don Barton Johnson on Nabokv-L*, I think this is the shortest and weakest chapter in the book. There are almost no allusions, hardly any motifs, no drama, no important development. *See Addendum.

[BB made some general points about the chapter's deliberately flat and frustrating feel, a consequence of Van and Ada's mood in their first years of separation, that he will elaborate in time in The Nabokovian.]

Tadashi Wakashima
Thank you, Brian. We've each come to this session with comments or questions to ask you about Chapter 26. May we make them or ask them now?

Brian Boyd
Of course. Go ahead.

Tadashi Wakashima
161. 3-4: popular books on cosmic theories
This may be a reference to the mathematician Gamow's book, The ABC of Relativity
, since the topic is the ABC used as code.

Brian Boyd
Maybe so.

Maya Minao
This may be too obvious to mention, but the number of this chapter, 26, coincides with the number of the English alphabet. Could this be the reason why Nabokov has Van and Ada play with letters in their invention of the secret code for their correspondence?

Brian Boyd
I hadn't thought of that. It's possible: Nabokov certainly likes playing with numbers, but there are some over which he doesn't have much control. There are 69 chapters in total in Ada, and the year the novel was published was 1969. But I don't know if either that or this being chapter 26 was actually an intentional link.

Motoko Yoshikawa
I've been wondering why this chapter ends with Ada's strange suggestion to omit this chapter altogether. Could you tell us your views?

Brian Boyd
Ada is aware that this chapter is evidence that she hadn't been faithful to Van. Her letters grew scarcer, especially at the end, because of her affairs with Percy de Prey and Rack.

Akiko Nakata
I cannot find the meetings mentioned in the first paragraph. Can we? Van says that there are "two brief interludes of intolerable bliss (in August, 1885 and June, 1886)" (p.160), but there seem no such chance meetings exactly as he writes.

Brian Boyd
Well, I think actually we can't. Because in fact the earlier meeting we know is at Brownhill with Cordula, without " intolerable bliss" and the second meeting is blissful, but it is in July, not June, 1886. The chronology of the chapter is full of mistakes (see my article on Nabokov's mistakes, Nabokov Studies 2 (1995), 667-68). It may be that Nabokov had composed this chapter early, before the full chronology was determined, knowing that he had to get the code worked out correctly; perhaps he misremembered later, thinking he had already scrutinized the chapter closely, because of the code, but forgot that he had meanwhile changed dates. In Nabokov's own copy of Ada, on the half-title page, he notes among other corrections: "p. 161 not worth correcting."

Maya Minao
At the end of this chapter, the narrator says all the letters were destroyed in 1889, but in Chapter 1 of Part 2, it says Ada's coded letters perished in 1919(p.336). Is this also an error on Nabokov's part? Or…?

Brian Boyd
Also an error.

Akiko Nakata
I would like Tadashi to explain another possibility of the coded message in Chapter 25. He suggested it in the previous meeting.

Tadashi Wakashima
I think it is a simplest work to decipher the code. There is no need at all to capitalize them. I just wonder why Nabokov had to take pains to make the surface of the text so ugly-just to emphasize the overflowing scheme you pointed out? I thought there might have something other hidden there.

Brian Boyd
Anybody turning back to read the coded phrases immediately expects to find hidden there something too obscene to print directly (all laugh) and will discover Nabokov as usual is one jump ahead of expectations. The capitals just make it easier for us to follow the logic of the code; but they would have also made it much easier for anyone reading Van's and Ada's letters to crack the code with half a minute's thought. Dumb move for such smart people.

Akiko Nakata [added in cyberspace]
If my memory is correct, Tadashi thought that the deciphered code might have a sexual allusion and I agreed with him. Could it be possible that the plain description "this attire was hardly convenient for making his way through the brush and crossing a brook to reach Ada" should read as an ordinary pornographic metaphor of their sexual intercourse? I think this is the second bottom. Horny readers reach the first, false bottom and notice they have been played with, but Nabokov kindly or teasingly prepared another scene in the code, like palimpsest, that would be more satisfying for some more careful (or much hornier) readers. Nabokov supposedly made the code very ugly with unnecessary capitalization in order to suggest there was another meaning hidden in the sentence.

Brian Boyd [do.]
Quite possible. I'm too innocent for this magician. Did you mean those puns on "bottom . . . horny . . . played with," Akiko?

Akiko Nakata [do.]
No, I am stunned to hear that I could make such obscene puns without knowing it. Was I trying to imitate the great magician unconsciously?

Shoko Miura
There is a process of shrinkage in the size of the five parts of Ada. Could Chapter 26 reflect a self-eliminating process of decreasing communication like the decreasing number of chapters of the five parts-an objective correlative of what Van feels at his separation from Ada?

Brian Boyd
This chapter definitely sets a difference pace from the previous chapters, because for the first time, Van is parted from Ada.
Let me add some more minor matters.

161. 7: If he approaches the description
"he approaches" is my own emendation in the Vintage edition; without it the sentence has a hole in grammar and sense.

161. 25 Marvell's "The Garden"
Let me contribute an annotation here, since we're short of them-the Garden also evokes Bosch's painting, "The Garden of Earthly Delights," which should almost be on Ada's endpapers, and of course behind that the revisions of Eden (in Bosch, Marvell, and Ada).

Brian Boyd's posting to NABOKV-L (September 16, 2003)
Subject: EDnote on gratuitous word play

Don Johnson's supposition that ADA I.26 is "all in aid of permitting the reader to decode a short, inconsequential phrase in the preceding chapter" and is therefore an example of Gratuitous Virtuosity is charmingly wrong.

1: The chapter does allow one to crack the coded passage in the preceding chapter. I will never forget the delight when as a horny 17-year-old I first read ADA and wondered what steamy sexual practice in I.25 had to be encoded n a novel that had been mounting steadily in sexual fulfillment and frankness. Like all alert readers I could discover a method for cracking the code in the next chapter, savor the satisfaction of applying it to solve the riddle, and enjoy the surprise and amusement of Nabokov's deft undercutting of pornographic expectations. The combination of parody of pornography and training readers to read actively, with curiosity, memory, imagination, and awareness of their own and the genre's expectations, hardly seems gratuitous. But within chapter I.26 itself Nabokov is also doing many other things.

2: Van and Ada are still children. As incestuous lovers on a large estate under the eyes of vague Marina and unobservant Mlle Lariviere, and the less blind but much more accommodating Blanche, they could make love at will at Ardis. But despite the shimmer of fantasy that the Antiterran setting and the precocious characters supply, this is psychologically a realistic novel. When their schools part them, the most Van and Ada can do, for all their desperation to continue as at Ardis, is to write letters to one another. And the fact that they must resort to code indicates how aware they are that their incestuous love is impermissible to others. A lesser novelist might ignore the break between the summers of fulfillment at Ardis; Nabokov has to explain both the ongoing momentum of Van and Ada's passion, and the obstacles their passion meets: time, space, their lack of independence, their need for secrecy, and their other interests, including other sexual interests.

3: Letters occupy a key place in the development of the novel as a genre, solidly from Richardson until the end of the eighteenth-century and intermittently thereafter, as Nabokov was very aware as a novelist and a critical reader. ADA is saturated with references to the history of the novel, from the Tolstoy echo in the opening line, the letter-writing scene in a stage version of Eugene Onegin that inspires Demon's passion for Marina and so starts the whole incestuous story, and the "gentle eminence of old novels" on which Ardis stands. So here in I.26.

4: In I.40 Van writes "The novelistic theme of written communications has now really got into its stride" (287). That comment, on the anonymous note from Blanche warning Van that he is being deceived (by Ada), is another example of the use of letters to indicate the strain in Van and Ada's relationship, as in their first period of separation, or in their second, during which Van will not even read Ada's letters. These in turn echo the strained relationship between Demon and Marina a generation earlier, which Demon breaks off with a letter at the end of I.2.

5: Van and Ada's being able to use Rimbaud and Marvell for their code indicates their precocity, their literariness, their retentiveness, their attunement.

6: But it also points to the first time the Rimbaud and Marvell poems come together, when Ada and Van are communicating in a virtual code, in order to exclude Marina, in I.10, a passage that foreshadows their need to block parental understanding of their communication, as in the code of I.26, the cryptic telegram of I.29 or the ultrasecrecy of the Very Private Letters agency in II.1.

7: But I.10's exchange involving Rimbaud and Marvell also very pointedly introduces Lucette and the lost "souci d'eau," the "care of the water," that anticipates her death by drowning. Letters are inseparable from that fate. Lucette's slide towards her doom gathers pace when Ada sends a letter to Van delivered personally by Lucette, since he will not read Ada's other letters, in a scene that Van reports partly by incorporating a passionate love-letter from Lucette to him, rich in echoes of Ophelia and her letters that Hamlet returns before SHE dies by drowning.

The key words that Van uses in I.26 to demonstrate the first code, and the difference to the encryption caused by a difference in the number of letters in the word, are "love" and "lovely." "Love" of course is appropriate in this novel of ardor, including Lucette's tragic ardor for Van. We first encounter Van and Ada making love in the attic, in the first chapter of the novel. They can escape Lucette's surveillance on this occasion because they dupe her into wanting to hurriedly learn by heart a poem from an anthology of Van's. If she can recite the poem word perfect, she keeps the book, Van explains, "lightly brushing her bobbed hair with his lips":

"Otherwise, you'll forfeit the reward, and will regret the loss all your life." "Oh, Van, how lovely of you," said Lucette…

While Ada and Van ascend to the attic-where they discover the evidence that shows them that they are full brother and sister, and that will indicate how urgently, later, they will need to keep their correspondence encoded-Lucette learns the poem, and recalls it for Van in the last letter that she ever writes, which Van receives only after her death. A letter that incorporates a poem it was "lovely" of Van to have offered her surely has no accidental relationship to coded letters that use the "love"-"lovely" code or short poems by Rimbaud and Marvell.

8: The poem Lucette commits to memory and recalls in her last letter itself concerns communication between the dead and the living, a motif that recurs throughout ADA, in a strange relationship to Van's novel Letters from Terra (a planet many Antiterrans think of as a "Next World" (20)), a novel itself written in bitter response to the letters Ada sends him in vain after their parting in 1888. And the pattern of letters particularly involves Lucette, as in the Scrabble game in ADA I.36 and the Anglo-Russian letters for CLITORIS that Lucette introduces, recalling another Scrabble game, when she brings Van a letter from Ada for him to read, in a passage Van lifts from a letter of Lucette's that he in turn makes echo Hamlet's letter to Ophelia. Throughout the novel letters, epistolary or alphabetic, will suggest encoded communication between the Next World and This; I.26 introduces the theme of encoded forbidden communication in its starkest form.

9: The unexpected theme of communication, especially secret communication, through water also pervades the novel, from Aqua crazy enough to imagine she hears water talking, to the novel's hydraulic dorophones, to the "ondulas" that send Theresa's messages from Terra in Letters from Terra, before she flies over herself and swims "like a micromermaid" on a microscope slide, or "little Lucette" who flushes her blank suicide note down the toilet on a transatlantic liner before drowning and then sending "maybe a mermaid's message" to Ada to rejoin Van. In I.26 Van works himself into an impatient expository tangle in explaining the first code of his secret correspondence with Ada, through the examples of "love" and "lovely," especially as he describes the "letters overflowing into the new alphabetic series… that 'overflowing' into the next ABC business."

10: Notice that the letter Lucette brings to Van from Ada announces Ada's intention to marry if Van does not respond. The dwindling frequency of the coded correspondence in I.26 also encodes Ada's deepening relationship with other men over her first four years apart from Van.

11: I.26 is the shortest chapter in ADA, less than two pages in some editions, and it is not meant to thrill. Just as TRANSPARENT THINGS as a whole was short and jarringly uncomfortable after ADA's protracted radiance, I.26 is short, aridly unsensuous, frustrating for Van to write and us for to read, because this is the first chapter after Van and Ada's first parting, at the end of the radiance of Ardis the First. Ada, all too conscious that the chapter encodes her increasing entanglement with other men at Van's expense, ends it thus: "(I suggest omitting this little chapter altogether. Ada's note.)"

Since Don has written more about Nabokov as "alphabetic man of letters," and about "taking ADA clitorally," than anyone else, I am surprised that he of all people should think I.26 an example of gratuitous virtuosity. It is the chapter with the least to offer in ADA-it was MEANT to be thus, in pointed contrast to the rapturous idyll of Ardis-and it was still the chapter that satisfied Nabokov least. But gratuitous?

[To be continued]
Published in KRUG 5. 2 (Spring 2004)

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