This is the most fabergé of all of the Nabokov I’ve managed through so far, but also the most heavily maligned. There’s the prototypical (trilinguistic synesthesia injected into an off-kilter and verboten love story) combined with outright weirdness (alternate universe Tsarmericana, unexplained spurts of magical realism, water where you might expect electricity, self-mocking re: novel structure, geopolitical strife played out in madhouses, and the whole incest thing…) – but it’s so worth pushing past the eyebrow-raising premise. And so I’ve decided to become a stern advocate, via snippets dredged from Evernote. Per the man himself: go on, ya zaslushalsya*: I’m all enchantment and ears.
tesselated proctorate, libellula-long, apt to fall for all the fangles, heraldic draculini, fulgurations, “a halcyon climate under our Stars and Stripes”, mirabilic bivouac, “a jigsaw puzzle of Terrestrial autonomies”, thematic anathema, irrevocably converging, a whirl of worlds, a glowworm of strange truth, prowling black spumas, orchal orchestra, “an immediate brilliance and ascendancy”, granoblastic, felicitous alliterations, prismatic pulsations, festoons of foliage, hot gouts of sun, “melted in animal laxity”, “anemones, celandines, and columnines”, calèche, elegant loggia, :a gong bronzily boomed”, sequestered seraglio nook, goldgout, “the inexorable law of taxonomic priority”, arch and grandiloquent” “an aphrodisiac sinistral direction”, altudinal code, “with great aspiratory and silabatory emphasis”, tenacious anguish, codetta, ignicolists, pale-dusted firmament, elettricità, virile revival, oriflamme, apocryphal addenda, incunabulum, “a long idyll of bibliolatry”, drizzly & warm, gauzy & green, that stray ardilla daintily leavesdropping, “…keeping up a semblance of consecutive action which, despite the brilliant conversational gifts both possessed, would degenerate into a desperate vacuum of self-conscious loading with no other resource than affected wit followed by silence…”
Children of her type contrive the purest philosophies. Ada had worked out her own little system. Hardly a week had elapsed since Van’s arrival when he was found worthy of being initiated in her web of wisdom. An individual’s life consisted of certain classified things: “real things” which were unfrequent and priceless, simply “things” which formed the routine stuff of life; and “ghost things,” also called “fogs,” such as fever, toothache, dreadful disappointments, and death. Three or more things occurring at the same time formed a “tower,” or, if they came in immediate succession, they made a “bridge.” “Real towers” and “real bridges” were the joys of life, and when the towers came in a series, one experienced supreme rapture; it almost never happened, though. In some circumstances, in a certain light, a neutral “thing” might look or even actually become “real” or else, conversely, it might coagulate into a fetid “fog.” When the joy and the joyless happened to be intermixed, simultaneously or along the ramp of duration, one was confronted with “ruined towers” and “broken bridges.
*new favorite pseudountranslatable: to listen with delight