The Geography of Antiterra
By Dieter E. Zimmer
August 18, 2009 - February 10, 2010
ANTITERRA (aka Demonia) is a distant planet somewhere in the universe but strangely similar to Terra, even if similarities and differences are hard to pin down. It has a sun, a moon and a starry sky, it has an atmosphere and masses of land and water, there are clouds and lightning, there is day and night, there are climatic zones and seasons, there are rivers, lakes, moors, mountains, deserts, forests and prairies, there is a fauna and a flora very much like on Terra, and there are human beings that externally and internally seem to be identical to those on earth. The continents of both planets seem to be distributed in a similar way, and the countries on them seem to be where they are on earth. They also have the same or very similar names.
It is rumored on Antiterra that it has a counterpart somewhere in the universe, happy Terra. Around 1860 this twin planet became an object of metaphysical yearning. Many Antiterrestrians seem to hope that after death their souls would wander to Terra. Their own planet on the other hand they deem a place of terror. There are "terrologists" and "terrapists" trying to find out more about Terra from the dreams and fancies of the insane.
The reader is constantly tempted to match Antiterra's places to those on earth and to equate both. For the correspondences and near agreements are so numerous that the reader assumes what strictly speaking cannot be taken for granted at all: that Antiterra and Terra will also be alike in their unmentioned and hence invisible aspects. This is a deeply entrenched habit of thinking: if two things are alike in thousands of explicit and countless implicit details, whether natural ones or purely cultural ones like names and dates, everybody will readily jump to the conclusion that the unmentioned and unknown rest will also be more or less equal.
Nothing can be said about Antiterra's absolute size. In his philosophical novel Letters from Terra, young terrapist Dr. Van Veen toys with the idea that for Antiterrestrians people on earth are microscopically small. This, however, cannot be more than rash speculation. If the years on Antiterra are exactly of the same duration as those on Terra, the orbital period must be the same. In this case both planets should be expected to have a sun of equal size, the same distance from it and the same mass.
Yet there is evidence that despite their overwhelming similarity the geography of Antiterra and Terra is not quite identical. Ada focuses on two areas of the globe, the northeast of the American continent and Switzerland in the middle of Europe. Antiterra's Switzerland where the last two parts of Ada are set seems to be perfectly identical to that on earth, apart from the fact that some of the toponyms are slightly camouflaged, Montreux for instance becoming Mont Roux. The reader can follow Van driving from the Lower Engadine to Mont Roux on any road map of Switzerland.
The situation is not the same for the north of the American continent. It is conspicuously and momentously different, even if it may be roughly the same in shape. Where Terra has an endless extension of "arctic desert" with little precipitation and vegetation, cold and stormy, Antiterra is furnished with a much milder, downright "halcyonic" climate and a luscious vegetation (Ardis is said to be "practically subtropical"), allowing human settlement as far north as the arctic circle and beyond. In other words, the higher latitudes of the American continent have a climate similar to that of Eurasia. It is this peculiarity that has permitted the relocation of the Russian population from Eurasia to the subarctic north of America. There they found the same more or less temperate climate they were used to at home.
The name of this northern region of America where mostly Russian is spoken is not Canada or Canady but Estoty or Estotilandia. On earth, some old European maps applied the name 'Estotiland' to the northeastern tip of America that was largely Terra incognita. It was more or less synonym with 'Labrador' – not the present Canadian province of Labrador and Newfoundland but the whole of the Labrador peninsula, the great mass of "barren grounds" flanked by Hudson Bay, Labrador Sea and St. Lawrence River.
In addition to this climatic difference, geographical differences come into view as one zooms in on the region that is in the focus of Van's writing. For him it is the region where Paradise was. Paradise in Ada is nothing symbolic or metaphysical or religious. It is physical. As even the name implies, it is the domain of Ardis (pARaDISe) on Ladore River. The region of Ladore is the home of both the Veen and the Durmanov families. The irritating fact is that the towns, villages and country estates of Ladore are not terrestrian places in disguise, that there is nothing like them on Terra and that the earth is barely habitable where the reader is led to expect them. Ladore is a river, a city, a county and perhaps a province in French Estoty (which in terrestrian terms is French Canada, that is the province of Québec). It cannot be on any map. It is a realm of fancy inserted in the semblance of a real map.
Yet the reader knows quite well at which spot of the earth's surface he has to look for it. Once Van gives away the latitude of Ardis. When the ocean liner from Old Hantsport (Southampton) to Manhattan (New York) has been on its way one day, plausibly enough it is "on the meridian of Iceland and the latitude of Ardis" (p.477). That means Ardis and Ladore City must be at 48°N. The 48th parallel runs across Québec where the wide St. Lawrence River widens still further to become the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is no city anywhere near. The most you can find is a village like Tadoussac on the St.Lawrence, the first trading post France established on the new continent.
According to another incidental remark Van makes, Ardis is to be found at the latitude of Sicily (p.53). On earth, that would be at about 37°N which is the latitude of Virginia. Van must be plainly wrong here. For in this case Ardis would be so far from the north of the American continent that the whole notion of Estoty would collapse. Perhaps Van, lying sleepless in his hammock in the park of Ardis during a hot and sultry night, was only reminded of Sicily by the heat. It is quite safe to simply discard Virginia.
How could Ladore with its given relations to the outside world be fitted into a terrestrian map of Canada? One would not only have to mellow Quebec's climate. There also is a major topographical obstacle to be removed. It is the barely superable divide of the St. Lawrence River splitting the province of Québec in two, the enormous "Barren Grounds" in the north and the narrow strip of land along the St. Lawrence in the south. If for lack of other information you believe Van and place Ladore on the 48th parallel, you would have to choose between the southern and the northern shore of the St. Lawrence. On the southern shore, it would have to be on the rather narrow peninsula of Gaspésie where it would be closed in by the sea, leaving no exit except to the south. On the northern shore, it would be about 200 miles north of the city of Québec (46°N), and to get to the outside world one would first have to cross the St. Lawrence. The last bridge across is in Québec; its length is one kilometer. Downstream the river gains a width of 20 to 40 kilometers. To the people of Ladore, it would be very much of a nuisance.
This leaves only one conclusion. The St. Lawrence does not exist on Antiterra. In fact, in all of Ada there is not a single mention of the St. Lawrence. In its place there is the Ladore which resembles the small and peaceful Dore in Central France.
Once you improve the climate and eliminate the St. Lawrence from the map of Antiterra, the geographical problem looks somewhat more solvable. According to Google Earth, there is a small community by the name of La Doré, on the Rue des Peupliers (Route 167), W of Lac Saint-Jean, about 200 miles N of Quebec. This may be accidental, and Nabokov may not have known. Still it furnishes Ladore with excellent coordinates: it is on the 48th parallel in a francophone province, and it is not Québec itself (which exists on Antiterra under this name).
With insufficient and partly conflicting information, it is impossible to place Ada's other East Estotian and New English towns and villages. It must be c. 10 miles from Ardis to Ladore City which is on the other side of the Ladore. Beyond Ladore City, there is what seems to be a string of towns extending to the southeast, towards New Cheshire and Mayne. The closest appears to be Kaluga, an elegant spa where Ada's and Lucette's family (Daniel and Marina Veen) have their town home. Kaluga is in "New Cheshire, U.S.A." (p.4), that is not in East Estotiland any more. Then there is the "burg" of Raduga and, at a distance of 10 versts, the domain of Raduga, jointly owned by Demon and Daniel. Raduga is explicitly said to be "beyond Estotiland proper, in the Atlantic panel of the continent" (p.4), that is east of the Appalachian Mountains. There they speak a slang composed of English, French and Russian ("un régulier angelochek"). Finally there is Ladoga, as elegant as Kaluga, where the Durmanov family has another town house. It must be a major town as it is at the intersection of two express railroad lines. Ladoga is in Mayne (p.4). The distance from Ladoga to Kaluga and to Ladore must be considerable as people regularly seem to take the train.
Now the proximity of these "properly" American states of New Cheshire and Mayne (given they are equivalent of New Hampshire and Maine) presents a further difficulty for any map of East Estotiland. Ladore is at 48°N, Maine reaches up from 43°N to 47°N, the city of Québec is at 46°N, New Hampshire between 42°N and 45°N. To go to any of these from Ladore, one would have to travel south. Yet when Van takes the train to Ladoga and then on to dismal Kalugano, the "crack express" is "tearing north at a hundred miles per hour." This would never get him to Mayne but right into the interior of the Labrador peninsula. The only solution is to ignore Van's directional remark as well. We can guess the approximate distance of Kalugano. As it takes Van about as long to reach Kalugano (p.301) as it takes Daniel Veen to reach Ardis from Manhattan by train (p.67), both must be roughly at the same distance. So if one makes Van from Ladore first take a train going southeast, this might take him into Mayne, and from there he could go northeast back into anglophone Estoty (in terrestrian terms the Canadian province of New Brunswick). This gives us a possible nesting place for Kalugano that seems to be anglophone too and is as far away as Manhattan.
But we are not out of trouble. On several occasions the reader of Ada has the impression that places in French Estoty (Québec) and New England are much closer to each other than they would be on earth, at least in a meridional (N–S) direction. That this impression is correct can be shown by a little calculation. It is even possible to show the magnitude of this shortening of meridional distances. The roughly five hours of a train ride from Manhattan to Ladore are equivalent to 450 miles at most. On earth, the distance from New York City to the 48th parallel in Québec is 650 miles. Of these, 200 have somehow vanished on Antiterra. The other instance to check Van's distances against those on Terra is the location of his university, Kingston, relative to Manhattan. The drive from Kingston to Manhattan normally takes three hours; impatient Van makes it in two (p.389). That is, Kingston seems to be about 100 miles from Manhattan. However, Van's Kingston is in Mayne. On earth, the distance from southern Maine to New York City is more than 300 miles. Again, 200 miles are missing on Antiterra. It is futile to ponder how this might have happened, if perhaps Antiterra is not a globe but a disc or a pancake, etc. You have to take it as it is. Ladore, Kingston and Manhattan are closer to each other than they are on the map of the earth. On Antiterra, New England has shrunk by about 200 longitudinal miles.
There also are other inconsistencies. Once the town of Lugano finds itself not far from Ladore in East Estotiland or Mayne (p.79), once in "Pa." (Pennsylvania) (p.108). Kaluga is in New Cheshire (New Hampshire?) (p.4) and at another occasion in "Conn." (Connecticut) (p.108).
All of this can mean two things. The first is that whatever the map of Antiterra may be like, we do have enough consistent information for the big picture but are simply unable to draw a close map of East Estotiland and New England―all the borders and all the distances may be different from those on earth. The second is that Van may be fabricating his Antiterra ad hoc, deliberately eschewing plausibility―of all of Nabokov's narrators, he may be the most unreliable one. In Nabokov's preceding novel, Pale Fire (1962) the narrator thought up an invented country, his lost Kingdom of Zembla, and placed it precariously on a terrestrial map, somewhere in the north of Europe, a northeastern appendix of Scandinavia, yet endowing it with a climate that would befit a region 10 to 20 degress farther south. The description of Zembla was largely sufficient to draw a rather detailed map of it. But when it came to attaching Zembla to Scandinavia, its would-be king remained evasive and vague.
So is Van when it comes to fitting Ladore into the North American continent. The focal area on Antiterra remains a blur and may well be meant to be one. Its very names make a blur in the mind: Ladore, Lugano, Kaluga, Raduga, Radugalet, Ladoga, Laguna, Luga, Kalugano ... There is no map for Paradise.
The differences in the political geography of both planets are much more obvious and straightforward. The fact that the years not only have the same duration on both but are counted in the same manner implies that Christianity must be the dominant religion on Antiterra, at least within the realm of the "Anglo-American coalition." Compared to that on earth, the political situation is greatly simplified. National ambitions and ethnic claims of sovereignty almost don't seem to exist, and where they do they are much weaker. Borders and frontiers don't seem to matter much, except for one. Politics and ideologies don't seem to be of great interest. That is why there are fewer conflicts. The greatest difference by far stems from the fact that the Tartars (that is Mongols and Turks) who on earth had conquered large portions of what now is Russia on Antiterra were not defeated and forced back into Central Asia. The battle of Kulikovo that Grand Prince Dmitri Donskoi fought against the Tartar invaders on September 8, 1380 seems not to have ended well. Since that time what once was Rus is ruled by Tartars. The Russian population was expelled in the course of the 15th and 15th centuries and settled in the north of the American continent, from "Lyaska (Alaska) in the west across "Yukon and the "Severnïya Territorii (Northwest Territories) to the Labrador peninsula. In the east, the exiled Russians mingle with a French population and various other settlers, such as "Bavarians and Macedonians." In the far east of Siberia there appear to be regions that have remained in Russian hands.
The U.S.A. are much more than the "United States proper" (p.17). They are the United States of the Americas, extending from the polar circle down to Patagony, with the Stars and Stripes as their banner. The founding of their germ cell called 'Amerussia' seems to be quite recent, the achievement of a president by the name of Abraham Milton. From 1884 to 1900 when most of the action of Ada takes place, the U.S.A. are ruled by old President Gamaliel. After that it is the turn of Alexander Screepatch, "a plethoric Russian" who is followed by Old Velt (perhaps Teddy Roosevelt). At about the same time, England is ruled by King Victor and then by King George. France has been annexed by England in 1815 and is ruled by a viceroy, Lord Gaul (whom you might spell Gaulle). Most of Western Europe, Scandinavia and the Balkans as well as various regions on other continents such as South Africa and India are British protectorates and part of the Commonwealth. Together with the Commonwealth the U.S.A. form the Anglo-American coalition which jointly administers the two "southern continents," presumably Africa and Australia. Titled nobility still exists in the Anglo-American world but does not seem to have any political function. Counties and comtés are not under the jurisdiction of a count but simply local administrative divisions.
Europe on Antiterra is severed by the impenetrable Golden Curtain behind which lies inaccessible Tartary. In September of 1888, the short Second Crimean War takes place, the "Allies" (that is, the Anglo-American coalition) landing on the "rhomboid island" and wrenching Bessarabia and Armenia from Tartary. After that, there seems to be peace on Antiterra; she is spared both World Wars. Nevertheless, the Antiterrestrians think their planet is a place of horror and long for supposedly blissful Terra.
Corneille Wytfliet: Estotilandia Et Labratoris Terra (1597)
Source: Princeton University, Historical Maps Collection http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/northwest-passage/wytfliet.htm
Aardvark, Massa A (university) town in or near "Boston, corresponding to Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Acapulkovo A contraction of Acapulco in Mexico (which on Antiterra is Oxmice) and the village of Pulkovo south of the airport of St. Petersburg that bears its name.
Agavia, Arizona (Valentina) Place where Ada and Andrey Vinelander have their cattle ranch. The name 'Agavia' applies either to this ranch or to a town in the vicinity or to both. It is also the place of Aqua's "last sanatorium" which more exactly should lie near or in "Centaur, Arizona. So Agavia and Centaur probably are very close to each other. It is 200 miles to Las Vegas, and the nearest international airport seems to be Phoenix (and not Tucson). So we may conjecture that both Agavia and Centaur are in North Central Arizona, not far from the region of Sedona, the part of the state Nabokov from his butterfly hunts knew best.
Alexis Avenue Street in "Manhattan probably corresponding to Lexington Avenue in New York City. This is where Cordula de Prey has her penthouse which she is to sell to Van. It must be a fairly high building. In the mezzanine there is a restaurant, the "Monaco." For a more precise localization, there are four hints. The penthouse is situated "between the Library and the Park"; the Public Library is just "a few blocks" away; from the roof terrace the "central green" of the Park is visible; and it is ten blocks to Demons "little palazzo" on 5 Park Lane. So in terrestrial terms the penthouse should be on Lexington Avenue at about East 50th Street.
Altar Corresponding to Gibraltar.
Alvena On earth, the place seems to correspond to Alvaneu, a village and spa (sulphuric springs) in the Albula Valley c. 10 km E of Tiefencastel. It is here, in the Hotel Alraun Palace, that Van on Sunday, July 13, 1922, belatedly receives Ada's telegram from America suggesting a meeting on Monday evening in the Hotel Trois Cygnes in "Mont Roux. It is not clear what has brought Van to the Alraun Palace and where Ada had originally sent the telegram. Neither is it clear whether he starts on his trip to Mont Roux right from Alvena or whether he first returns to his house in "near-by" "Ardez, some 67 km E of Alvena. Probably the latter is the case, for a few lines later Van speaks of the 150 km from Alvena to Sylvaplana. The direct road across the Albula Pass would have been only 57 km while the detour by way of Ardez would have been 134 or more. In any case he would have ahead of him a difficult alpine drive of more than 300 km across one of the highest alpine passes, the Furka (2436 m), open just a few summer months of the year. But he leaves Alvena or Ardez without planning his route and promptly makes too bad mistakes. The first is that he does not go straight NW towards Chur in order to reach highway 19 that would take him across the Furka to Brig in the Valais. Instead he drives S into the Upper Engadine. The second is that he does not correct this mistake on reaching Sylvaplana by taking the road across the Julier Pass that would take him N to Chur (this missed road he calls "Oberhalbstein road" because after the Julier it would have lead him through the Oberhalbstein Valley). Instead, he continues S across the Maloja Pass to Italian Chiavenna from where he has to "wriggle back" N across the Splügen Pass to Highway 19. On reaching it, he aborts the third mistake that would have been to drive E to Chur (where he should have gone right away) by making "an unspeakable U-turn." Altogether, it is a detour of 150 km of difficult mountain roads with three additional passes (Albula, Maloja, Splügen). That is why he arrives in his house in "Sorcière (Sierre/Siders) only in the evening.
Amerussia A confederation of American states founded by Abraham Milton that certainly comprises English, French and Russian speaking North America but is not yet synonymous with the much larger "U. S. A. (the United States of the Americas).
Ardez A village in the lower Engadin (Northern Grisons) where Van in July 1922 buys a house probably because the name reminds him of "Ardis. On earth there is a village of the same name about which the local tourist office says: "Ardez, at 4825 ft above sea level, is the only Swiss village under EC protection of historical monuments. It is a lively village with 500 inhabitants, almost unchanged for centuries. It sustains itself through mountainous farming, cattle trade, and timber trade …" The 1958 Guide Michelin says: "Situated at the foot of the ruin of Steinsberg castle, this village merits a stay because of its charming sgraffito flowered oriels. The theme of Paradise has allowed the painter of the Chasa Adam & Eva to design a luscious vegetal decoration."
Ardis The estate owned by Daniel and Marina in the French Estotian county of "Ladore where French and Russian mix, with Ardis Hall, a castle-like manor of "pale brick and purplish stone," parks, gardens, woods and a river (the Ladore), in a "damp windless region," "practically subtropical." This is where Ada and Lucette spend the summers of their childhood; the rest of the year they are in "Kaluga. Ardis is not far from Ladore-City (the rain takes half an hour to reach it, so it must be about ten miles away). From Ardis, a "winding road" leads downhill through the hamlets of "Gamlet and then "Torfyanka to the nearest train station ("Maidenhair); between Ardis and Gamlet the road crosses the Ladore River on an old bridge with "rotten planks," and from afar you can see the "gay multicolored roofs" of Ladore-City with its "ruinous black castle on a crag". Concerning the geographical situation, the ocean liner from Old Hantsport (Southampton) to Manhattan (New York) after one day is "on the meridian of Iceland and the latitude of Ardis." So Ardis must be at about 48°N or in the interior of the province of Québec in earthly terms. (On Antiterra, the mild New English climate extends across all of the Labrador peninsula.)
Ardisville Small town on the "Ladore River, in the vicinity of Ladore-City and Ardis.
Arizona State in the SW of the "United States proper." Its other name is Valentina.
Villa Armina Demon Veen's "dazzling," "magically well-staffed Côte d’Azur villa" near Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, which he gives to Marina as a present and where she lives after the death of her husband Daniel Veen in 1893 to her death in 1900. It has an "arbutus-and-laurel garden."
Bahamudas A contraction of the Bahamas and the Bermuda Islands.
Balkans An Anglo-American protectorate in Europe.
Balticomore und Como Two toponyms remindful of American Baltimore and North Italian Como. Supposedly one of Van's ancestors was a bishop there in the 18th century.
Barren Grounds On earth, the vast sub-Arctic tundra region of northern Canada on both sides of Hudson Bay, extending westward to the "Great Slave Lake and northward to the Arctic Ocean and consisting of a low, glaciated, treeless windy plain lying below 1,000 feet (300 metres) in elevation.
Belokonsk Russian name for Whitehorse in "Yukon Territory, West Estoty. On earth, Whitehorse is the capital of Yukon; on Antiterra, this seems to be Yukonsk.
Brantôme Town in Ladore County where in September a vendange festival is held. It must be close to Ardis. On earth it is a town in Périgord, France, encircled by the Dronne River, where the writer Pierre de Bourdeille, Seigneur de Brantôme (1540–1614) lived in the old abbey and wrote his famous and scandalous chronicle of the morals of his time.
Brig Town in the east of the Valais, Switzerland.
British Commonwealth Extends from Scotland and Scandinavia to the Riviera, Palermo, (Gibr)Altar and Moldovia (?). The Balkans and India are Anglo-American protectorates. After the short Crimean War of September 1888, Bessarabia and Armenia are added to the British-American coalition.
Chiavenna Italian town between "Sylvaplana (Grisons) and "Brig (Valais).
Cuba Probably an island in the Carribean, as on earth.
England More or less the same as England on earth except that it has annexed France in 1815.
Boston City in New England where the "Aardvark (Harvard) Clinic is situated. Actually on Terra, the clinics of Harvard Medical School are situated in Boston and not in Cambridge like the rest of the university.
Bras d'Or French and Russian speaking province in northeastern "Estoty. The name is an allusion to Labrador which as a name does not seem to exist on Antiterra. On Terra, Labrador probably is called after the Portuguese seafarer João Fernandes (1453–1505) surnamed Lavrador (ploughman) who in 1498 was the first European after the Vikings to reach it. Bras d'Or is not synonymous with "Estoty. It is a political province of Estoty. Its French name suggests that it is part of "French Estoty as contrasted with "Russian Estoty." On earth, all of the Labrador peninsula is occupied by the francophone Canadian province of Quebec except for the northeastern tip. This is the Canadian province of Labrador (which includes the offshore island of Newfoundland). So it is tempting to equate Bras d'Or with what is mainland Labrador province on earth. However, in NE Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, there is big Bras d'Or Lake (650 miles of shoreline) that was known to Nabokov as he mentioned it in one of his entomological papers as the habitat of a form of the Crowberry Blue, Plebejus idas empetri. For this reason, Nova Scotia likewise is a candidate for Estotian Bras d'Or. The Nova Scotia hypothesis however is contradicted by the fact that it is not part of francophone Canada, only 18 per cent of its population being native French speakers. The name of the lake is regularly translated as 'Arms of Gold' but actually is a French corruption (or embellishment) of Labrador. So we are referred back to Labrador again.
Brownhill, Brown Hill College Probably an allusion to Bryn Mawr, a town in Pennsylvania W of Philadelphia known for its swank women's college. The name is of Welsh origin, bryn meaning hill and mawr big. Ada und Cordula attend a stern boarding-school named Brownhill which might be a prep school in the town of the famous college.
Bryant's Castle, Bryant's Chateau The ruinous black castle on an oak-timbered hill above the blue "Ladore. The name, of course, is a tribute to the French poet Chateaubriand.
California A state in the "U.S. proper."
Canady A political subdivision of North America that seems to be more or less equivalent to terrestrian anglophone Canada except that the northern territories and the Labrador peninsula on Antiterra are "Estoty and not Canadian. Canady belongs to the "U.S.A. (United States of the Americas). "Russian" Canady borders on the "Severnïya Territorii and thus corresponds to the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Centaur, Arizona Surnamed St. Taurus by Aqua who at the end of her life lives in its "Sanastoria" and there in 1883 commits suicide. It must be close to "Agavia.
Château de Byron ("She Yawns Castle") The Antiterrestrian counterpart of Château de Chillon, a castle SE of Montreux on Lake Geneva, made popular by Lord Byron's narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon (1816). "She Yawns" parodies the American tourists' pronunciation of Chillon.
Chiavenna Italian town between "Sylvaplana (Grisons) and "Brig (Valais).
Chose University town in England, the Antiterra counterpart of Cambridge. The name remains unexplained.
East Estotiland The northeast of the North American continent where French and Russian are spoken ("Estoty); should be more or less congruent with "French Estoty. On Terra, it is made up of the Labrador peninsula, largely covered by the francophone province of Québec, with only the NE tip belonging to the predominantly anglophone province of Labrador and Newfoundland.
Estoty, Estotia or Estotilandia A former vicekingdom and now "an American province" in the high north of the American continent. On Terra, old cartographers sometimes used the name 'Estotilandia' for what was known of the Labrador peninsula. It extended as far west as their maps did. The name also appears in John Milton's Paradise Lost (x/686) where God bestows a fair climate on most of the American continent, forbidding "the snow/ From cold Estotiland, and south as far/ Beneath Magellan." In Roget's International Thesaurus (1922), Estotiland appears in the context of Eden, Arcadia, utopia, paradise, heaven, heaven on earth, Atlantis etc., i.e. as an example of pure wishful thinking. Geographically the region in question seems to conform to the whole north of the American continent, perhaps with the exception of Alaska (called Lyaska), extending from "French Estoty (Québec) across Goodson (Hudson) Bay, the "Severnïya Territorii (Northwest Territories, in 1999 split into Nunavut and Northwest) to "Yukon in West Estoty. To the west, there is "Lyaska (Alaska), to the south "Canady (the Canadian provinces except for those on the Atlantic). Because of their Russian population, the Severnïya Territorii are still called "Russian" Estoty, in contrast with "French"-Estoty that extends "from "Bras d'Or to "Ladore" and with "Russian" Canady on which it borders. At the time of Ada, all of Estoty belongs to the "U.S.A. (United States of the Americas).
Ex-en-Valais "Mountain resort not far from Brig" in Valais where Marina seems to have lived in the years prior to her marriage to Daniel Veen in 1871. It is where she gave birth to Van. Towards the end of his life (around 1960) he built a castle in Ex where he and Ada presumably die in 1968. In 1862 violinist Ivan Veen, Marina's and Aqua's elder brother, died there, as did about 1870 (Van's year of birth) consumptive Eric van Veen (no relation), the inventor of the Villa Venus clubs. Ex ist pronounced like Aix . In francophone countries a number of toponyms begin with Aix (Aix-en-Provence, Aix-les-Bains, Aix-la-Chapelle = Aachen) but none in Valais. The names derives from Latin aquae, meaning 'waters,' 'bath.' The change of spelling to 'Ex' indicates it is a fit place for dying.
Fialta Summer resort "on the Adriatic." It stems from Nabokov's short story Spring in Fialta (1934) where it is a combination of Yalta in Crimea, Opatija in Croatia and fialka, the Russian word for 'violet.'
Florida State in the "U.S. proper."
French Estoty Presumably the counterpart of Franco-Canada on earth ("Estoty), extending "from "Bras d'Or to "Ladore."
Gamlet "Half-Russian village" in "Ladore County, connected to "Ardis by a birch-lined road. Gamlet is the Russian form of Hamlet.
Gasp One of the northernmost points of the Americas, the opposite of Patagony at the southern end. In 'Patagony' there is agony as there is a gasp in Gasp. On earth there is the town of Gaspé at the tip of the Gaspésie Peninsula in eastern Québec (population 15,000), at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
Geneva, English for Genève City on Lake Leman, with an international airport.
Goodson A river and a town next to Manhattan (New York), with an international airport; Hudson on Terra. Both Hudson and Hudson Bay have their name from the English discoverer Henry Hudson (1565–1611).
Goodson Bay Twin of Hudson Bay in NE Canada.
India An Anglo-American protectorate.
Villa Jolana A house in Sorcière (Sierre), Valais, which Van buys in October 1905 for himself and his "cousin" but which he leaves vacant for 17 years when their hoped-for reunion does not materialize. The name is taken from the butterfly Iolana iolas, the Iolas Blue which Nabokov found in the environs of Sierre.
Kaluga, New Cheshire, U.S.A. City in New England, "elegant," "drizzly and warm, gauzy and green," where in 1869 Aqua Durmanov und Demon Veen marry. "New Cheshire" reminds of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat but is also reminiscent of New Hampshire. However, at a later point in the novel Kaluga is said to be in Connecticut. As Van and Ada make at least one trip from Ardis to Kaluga in the summer of 1884 and "drank Kaluga Waters," and as Ada in 1888 goes to see a gynecologist not in "Ladore but in Kaluga, it must be the nearest bigger town. From Kaluga to Ladore it is one hour by train, that is c. 50 miles. Ada's parents, Daniel and Marina Veen, have their town home in Kaluga, "two upper stories in the former Zemski chertog (palazzo)." Ada spends her summers at Ardis; the rest of the year she is in Kaluga. On earth, Kaluga is an industrial city SW of Moscow; there is no Kaluga in New England.
Kalugano A "dismal" and "gruesome" industrial city N of Ladore with factory chimneys, a college and a school of photography where Kim Beauharnais teaches, home town of music teacher Philip Rack and his wife Elsie. Van takes "the crack express tearing north at a hundred miles per hour" from Ladore to "Ladoga, Mayne, arriving at noon; after a wait, he boards "an even more jerky and crowded train" to Kalugano where he arrives in the afternoon. Kalugano does not seem to be francophone; hence it probably is not in "French Estoty. It might be in the equivalent of New Brunswick. Three earthly toponyms are fused in the name: Kaluga (SW of Moscow), Luga (S of St. Petersburg) and Lugano (in Ticino).
Kingston, Mayne University town in New England where Van finishes his medical studies, pursues his psychological research and in 1911 gets a professorship which he gives up in 1922. Judging by driving time, it must be about 100 miles north of Manhattan. On earth, there actually is a Kingston in the Hudson valley about 100 miles north of New York City, a town with a population of c. 24,000, the first capital of New York State (1777-1797). However, it has no university. Van's Kingston must be a different one, situated in Mayne.
Lake Kitezh A lake near "Luga, Mayne. It takes its name from the legendary Russian town of Kitezh that before the onslaught of the Tartar army disappeared into a lake, Svetloyar Lake in oblast Nishni-Novgorod.
Ladoga, Mayne A town "no less elegant" than "Kaluga, New Cheshire. It is the place where the Durmanovs have their town home and where the three Durmanov children (Ivan, Marina and Aqua) were born. The Durmanov's favorite estate, "Radugalet ("the other Ardis"), is between Ladoga and Kaluga. Possibly this Ladoga, Mayne, is not the same as Ladoga, N.A., where Demon Veen has a town house and where Van spends two weeks in 1884 before returning from Ardis to his school in "Luga, Mayne. The meaning of "N.A." is unclear. There is no real state to which it could apply. Normally it stands for "Not applicable" or "Not available."
Ladore A town, a river, a county (comté) and possibly a province in "French Estoty, on the same order as the province of "Bras d'Or, with the climate of New England. As "Ardis is not far, it should be on the 48th parallel as well. In terrestrial terms it would be within the Canadian province of Québec, or it would be the same as Québec.
Ladore Town A town in Ladore County, on blue Ladore River, "a rather smart little resort" with a "ruinous black castle on a crag," "gay multicolored roofs" and a playhouse. Lately "Ladore Town has become very honky-tonky," Demon says.
Laguna A place obviously not far from Ladore, mentioned only once, in the series "Ladore, Ladoga, Laguna, Lugano, Luga."
Le Havre-de-Grâce French port on the Atlantic where Lucette on June 3, 1901 goes aboard the ocean liner 'Admiral Tobakoff' bound for "Manhattan. On earth, the name Le Havre derives from the chapel Le Havre-de-Grâce near which the seaport was founded in 1517.
Lake Leman The equivalent of Lake Geneva the French name of which is Lac Léman. On Antiterra it extends from Geneva via Morges, Luzon (Lausanne), Valvey (Vevey), Mont Roux (Montreux) to Château de Byron (Chillon).
Lolita, Texas On earth a small town in S Texas, between San Antonio und Houston. In the vicinity a questionable aunt of Demon's has a ranch.
Los Angeles or simply Los The town in California where Lucette attends high school. If Marina and her family are there, she regularly stays at the Pisang Palace Hotel. This seems to be the Antiterrestrian alias of the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, which just like the Pisang Palace is a "candy-pink and pisang-green albergo." Nabokov stayed here for ten days in March 1960 when he came to Hollywood to work on the Lolita screenplay. Pisang is Indonesian for 'banana' but here refers to the Dutch banana liqueur Pisang Ambon which is green. The pink of its facade earned it the nickname 'Pink Palace.' It seems Nabokov reinforced its banana (or pisang) appearance not only for a slab of green on the pink facade but also because the walls of the hallways and the former soda fountain room are decorated with the famous Martinique Banana Leaf Wallpaper designed by Albert Stockdale in 1941, the green version of which was specified for the Beverly Hills by designer Donald Loper in 1942 (thanks for the hint to Victoria Wright).
Louisiana A state in the "U.S. proper."
Luga, Mayne A "cold" town where Van's boarding school "Riverlane is situated; in the vicinity, Daniel Veen has another estate. On earth, there is no Luga in Maine. Luga is a city c. 140 km S of St.Petersburg.
Lugano Community in "East Estoty, probably in "Ladore County. There is a dirt road leading from "Ardis to Lugano so it cannot be far. At another occasion Van places it in "Pa." (Pennsylvania). On earth, Lugano is a city in Ticino.
Lute The English name for Paris, "that lovely pearl-gray sad city on the other side of the Channel." The name is derived from Lutetia, the old Roman name of the beginnings of Paris.
Luzon A city on Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) corresponding to Lausanne in the canton of Vaud.
Lyaska The Antiterrestrian counterpart of Alaska. On earth, Alaska (Russian name Alyaska) was first settled by Russians after 1745 as a base for the fur hunt and fur trade. Subsequently it formed Russia's only overseas colony. As it proved too difficult and costly to maintain, Russia in 1867 sold it to the United States for 7.2 millon dollars.
Mad Avenue A street in "Manhattan corresponding to Madison Avenue in New York City.
Maidenhair, "vulgar" Russian name Volosyanka ('The Hairy One') Small town near "Ardis where the express train stops. It is "five versts across the bog."
Malahar A "miserable village on Ladore River, some twenty miles from "Ardis," Van's quarter in July, 1886.
Malbrook, Mayne The place where Cordula de Prey-Tobak spends her summers.
Malorukino The estate of the de Prey family (Major de Prey and Prascovie de Prey née Lanskoy) at "Malbrook, Mayne.
Manhattan, short Man Antiterra's counterpart of New York City. The former name was New Amsterdam, just like New York from is inception in 1616 to 1664 was Nieuw Amsterdam. Demon Veen has a town house on 5 "Park Lane. After Van has left Ardis in 1888, he lives for a month in Cordula de Prey's penthouse on "Alexis Avenue (between Public Libary and Park). Later he buys it from her. This is where he lives with Ada in the winter of 1892/1893.
Manitobogan "Swedish" province in North America, a combination of Manitoba and tobogan.
Marina Ranch Marina Durmanov's ranch near "Centaur, Arizona, where Ada stays in the summer of 1890.
Mark Kennensie In all likelihood the three adjacent "German" states of Arkansas, Kentucky und Tennessee.
Massa Probably Antiterra's counterpart of Massachusetts. That is where "Aardvark (Harvard) is situated.
Minataor A seaside resort, "the famous artificial island." An anagram of Taormina, Sicily.
Mississippi A North American "region" where many Afroamericans seem to live.
Mocuba A real village in Central Moçambique, obviously the place where Daniel Veen goes to photograph tigers.
Monaco Name of a restaurant in the mezzanine of a high-rise apartment house in "Manhattan (New York), near the Park (Central Park), where Van in August, 1888 lives in a penthouse with Cordula de Prey and in the winter of 1892-93 with Ada.
Mont Roux Town at the SE end of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva), corresponding to Montreux in the canton of Vaud where Nabokov lived from 1961 to his death in 1977. Literally, French Mont Roux means 'Redhair Mountain' (in memoriam Lucette). It is said to take its name from Mt. Russet (Latin Rufomonticulus), the "forested hill behind the town." The origin of the name of Montreux is altogether different, deriving from Latin monasterium, an island monastery that was there in the ninth century. The present-day township of Montreux was formed only in 1961 by the fusion of several adjacent municipalities of different names. The hills behind Montreux are the wooded slopes leading up to Glion, Caux and the Rochers-de-Naye (alt. 2,040 metres).
Moscow, Idaho The "former capital of Estotiland". On earth, there actually is the town of Moscow in NW Idaho (population c. 20,000). If at one time Antiterra's Moscow was the capital of "Amerussia, North America probably will have been settled by Russians from "Lyaska (Alaska).
Naples, English for Napoli A city in S Italy with a museum where Van sees the flower girl from Stabiae.
New Cheshire State "in the Atlantic panel of the (North American) continent" which is not part of "Estotiland. It may be the equivalent of New Hampshire.
Nevada On Antiterra this is a state as well as a gambling city in North America. As there exists Reno, the city of Nevada might be the same as Las Vegas on earth.
New Amsterdam "Manhattan
Oberhalbstein road On earth, highway no. 3 from Silvaplana to Tiefencastel which N of the Julier Pass leads along the Oberhalbstein Valley.
Old Hantsport An English seaport on the Channel where Van on July 3, 1901 embarks on the ocean liner 'Admiral Tobakoff' bound for Manhattan. It corresponds to terrestrian Southampton in Hamptonshire, abbreviation Hants.
Oxmice Anagram of Mexico.
Palermontovia On earth, there is the city of Palermo in Sicily but no Montovia.
Park Lane A street in "Manhattan, not to be confused with Park Avenue which is also mentioned in Ada and thus exists on Antiterra as it does on Terra. On Terra, there is no Park Lane in Manhattan. The name is that of a fashionable hotel on Central Park South. It probably takes its name from Park Lane, a major road in Central London, E of Hyde Park, and in spite of the traffic still a fashionable residential and business address. Demon Veen owns a townhouse in Manhattan on 5 Park Lane where he lives in winter, a Florentine "little palazzo" between two vacant lots where "two giant guards were soon to rise on both sides of it, ready to frog-march it away." Across the street there is a skyscraper; so it is not on Central Park, but probably close to it. It is "ten blocks" from Cordula's and Van's penthouse on Alexis (Lexington) Avenue. Van inherits this house after Demon's death in 1905. After it has burnt down in 1919, Van on the same spot builds his Lucinda Museum (reproductions of all the world's paintings).
Pfynwald On earth, a pine forest (Nature Preserve) along the S side of the Rhone River between Susten and Sierre/Siders ("Sorcière) in the Valais. It marks the language divide between the French and the German speaking Valais. It is here that Nabokov found the relatively rare Iolas Blue which Van commemorates by calling his villa in Sorcière 'Villa Jolana.'
Phoenix A city with an international airport in the state of Arizona, U.S.A.
Pisang Palace A hotel in "Los (Angeles) where Marina regularly stays when she is in town. The name might refer to the fact that its façade is painted green as the Indonesian liqueur Pisang Ambon.
Queenstown A college town in New England where Lucette studies history of art, not far from "Kingston, Mayne, where Van does psychological research when she visits him there in 1892. As Kingston must be less than 100 miles from "Manhattan, Queenstown cannot be much farther away.
Quebec A city presumably in francophone "East Estotiland. It is where Mlle Larivière's French novellas are published in a literary journal.
Raduga A "burg beyond Estotiland proper, in the Atlantic panel of the continent between elegant Kaluga, New Cheshire, U.S.A., and no less elegant Ladoga, Mayne." Some 10 versts away is Raduga, "the Durmanovs' favorite domain," jointly owned by Demon and Daniel while "Ardis is owned and used by Daniel and Marina. Van spends the summers of his childhood in Raduga just as Ada spends her summers in Ardis. It is not quite clear that the estate of Raduga is identical with Radugalet, "the other Ardis," but "colder and duller," situated on Lake "Kitezh near Luga, Mayne, "practically consisting of it." Probably it is. When Aqua flees from a psychiatric ward to her husband's country home in 1871, she asks the taxi driver, "ay vant go Lago di Luga." This makes sense when we assume that Lake Kitezh (said to be near Luga) is the same as this "Lago di Luga" and that Raduga is the same as Radugalet. From Raduga to Ardis Marina once (1878) takes an overnight taxi; from "Ladoga (where the Durmanovs own a town house) to Raduga and to Ladore people travel by slow train. Russian raduga means 'rainbow,' radugalet may be an English diminutive (meaning "sweet little rainbow"), the -let also evoking 'summers' in Russian.
Ranta A small English river flowing through Chose (Cambridge). It corresponds to the Cam of Cambridge whose former name was Granta.
Rennaz A place at the SE end of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) where Van in 1905, after his failed reunion with Ada, walks from "Mont Roux to take an airplane to travel all over the world. On Terra, there is the village of Rennaz 10 kilometers SE of Montreux. It used to have a small airport that has been replaced by a motorway.
Reno A gambling town in the state of Nevada.
Riverlane Van's boarding school from 1882 to 1885, situated in "cold" "Luga, Mayne.
"Russian" Estoty "An old name" for the "Severnïya Territorii in "Estoty.
Russia "A quaint synonym of Estoty, the American province extending from the Arctic no longer vicious circle to the United States proper." Antiterrestrians are surprised to learn that on Terra Russia extends "from Kurland to the Kuriles."
Santiago Town in Oxmice (Mexico), with several counterparts on Terra, where Van stays in the winter of 1892/1893, leaving it to inspect the aftermath of an earthquake in "another Santiago." This probably was the one in Chile. 450 miles S of it the strongest earthquake ever registered occurred in 1960.
S(c)ex Noir Literally 'Black Rock', a mountain crest opposite of "Mont Roux, on "Lake Leman. On earth there is blackish Dent d'Oche (alt. 2221 metres) across from Montreux.
Sex Rouge Literally 'Red Rock,' a summit in the Swiss Alps. At times Aqua thinks that her twin sister Marina had during a blizzard given birth to an illegitimate child in a mountain refuge on Sex Rouge and that this child had been foisted on her by one Dr. Alpiner. She is not far from the truth though we don't know if this took place on Sex Rouge. On Terra, S(c)ex Rouge is one of the five summits in the massif of Les Diablerets (alt. 2.977 metres), about 25 kilometres from Montreux. 'S(c)ex' derives from Latin saxum, rock. The c supposedly was added in order not to scare away tourists.
Severnïya Territorii (Russian 'Northern Territories') A "protectorate" in the high north of the American continent, mainly inhabited by Russians and therefore formerly called ""Russian" Estoty. It corresponds to the largely deserted Northwest Territories of Canada, extending at the time of Ada from "Goodson (Hudson) Bay to the Canadian territory of "Yukon.
Sidra A resort by the sea, possibly in the Caucasus region, where Van in 1904 writes his Reflexions in Sidra. The name is Ardis read backwards. On earth, there are at least four places of this name, in Poland, Karelia, Irak and Yucatan, but they cannot be counterparts of the Sidra in question as they are not by the sea; Ardis, however, is not either.
Slave Lake, Great Large lake (27,200 sq km) in the far north of the American continent corresponding to the Canadian lake of that name in the Northwest Territories, just on the Arctic Circle. The name has nothing to do with slaves or Slavs; rather it is named for a local Indian tribe, the Slavey.
Sorcière (French 'witch') Town in the Valais, Switzerland, "about one hundred miles east of Mont Roux," where Van in October, 1905 buys a house for himself and his "cousin," later called Villa Jolana in honor of a little blue butterfly flying there. The house remains vacant until in July, 1922 Van drives from the Lower Engadine via Sorcière to his meeting with Ada in "Mont Roux. On his way he premeditates his essay on the texture of time. He reaches Sorcière via Brig and the "new "Pfynwald road". So Sorcière must be the Antiterrestrian analog of Sierre/Siders, the first French speaking town for a traveler coming from the E.
Splügen A Swiss town and mountain pass between the Grisons and Brig, Valais.
Sylvaplana A small resort town in the Upper Engadine, corresponding to Silvaplana, Grisons. It is here that Highway 27 (from the Albula Pass) reaches Highway 3. Van has to decide whether he takes it N across the Julier Pass towards Chur or whether he continues straight SW. And makes the wrong decision and drives across the Maloja Pass to Italian Chiavenna. The spelling 'Sylvaplana' may be an allusion to the red wines from the winery of Abbaye Sylva Plana in the Languedoc, known to connoisseurs.
Tartary The realm settled and ruled by Tartars (i.e. Mongols and Turks) after the expulsion of the Russians, more or less congruent with what on Terra was the Soviet Union. It extends from the Baltic and the Black Sea across Eurasia to the Pacific, or "from Kurland to the Kuriles." Politically Tartary is the enemy of the British-American coalition that seems to dominate the rest of the world. On Antiterra the Tartars obviously were not defeated by the Russians as was on Terra the Golden Horde in the battle of Kulikovo Polye in 1380. Instead they spread over all of Rus, establishing an inaccessible "inferno" hidden behind a Golden Curtain and in the course of the 14th and 15th century expelling the Russians to the north of the American continent, to "Lyaska, "Yukon, the "Severnïya Territorii, "French Estoty and "Canady.
Telluride Town in West Colorado with a "world-famous opera house" where Demon takes Van to enjoy "the greatest international shows—English blank-verse plays, French tragedies in rhymed couplets, thunderous German musical dramas with giants and magicians and a defecating white horse." On Terra, Telluride in W Colorado is a town where Nabokov in July, 1951 spent almost four weeks in search of a certain small butterfly, the female of Plebejus (ex Lycaeides) idas sublivens. In those days Telluride was a run-down mining town where a relatively modest vaudeville opera house had survived. In the 1980s, the place was reanimated and developed as an expensive ski arena. In the opera house, among other events, each year a world-famous film festival is held.
Tent White city in Florida, with an international airport, called in Russian Palatka (Tent) by its Russian founders. On Terra there is the town of Palatka in N Florida. Its name, however, is not of Russian but of Native American origin. The nearest big international airport is in Tampa/ St. Petersburg (which one of its founders called after the city were he happened to have been born).
Torfyanka or Torfyanya A " a dreamy hamlet" on the way from "Ardis to the nearest train station, "consisting of three or four log izbas, a milkpail repair shop and a smithy smothered in jasmine." It is the place where Blanche's family lives. The French name is Tourbière, jokingly translated as 'Beer Tower." Actually Torfyanka and Tourbière both mean 'peat bog.'
Toulouse Seems to be a rather important city in "French Estoty, the destination of the train heard from "Ardis.
Universal City A community surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, mostly owned by Universal Studios which it houses. In 1889, during the making of a film based on Chekhov's Four Sisters, Marina lives there in a bungalow.
U.S.A. The United States of the Americas. They extend from "Estoty and "Canady to Patagony at the tip of South America. What is the U.S.A. on Terra is referred to as "the U.S. proper" in Ada.
Valais Corresponds to the canton of Valais in the upper valley of the Rhone.
Valentina The state where Andrey Vinelander in 1892 proposes to marry Ada. As Van calls her suitor her "Valentian estanciero", Valentina probably is just another name for "Arizona.
Valvey City on Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) between Luzon (Lausanne) und "Mont Roux (Montreux), corresponding to Vevey in the canton of Vaud.
Vatican "Smart little Vatican" is a "Roman spa."
Venezia or Venezia Rossa? City in Italy.
Verma The place probably not far from "Manhattan where Lucette in the winter of 1893 goes skiing to escape the misery of her love for Van.
Wark Corresponds to Newark, New Jersey where one of New York City's three big international airports is situated.
West Estotiland The West of "Estoty (subarctic Canada in terrestrian terms); should be more or less congruent with "Yukon.
Victor Island A big island (217,291 sq km) in the Arctic Ocean, north of the "Severnïya Territorii, corresponding to Victoria Island on earth. This was named after Queen Victoria in 1839. Antiterra at this time was ruled by King Victor.
Volosyanka "Vulgar" Russian name for "Maidenhair.
Yakima On Terra a town in the state of Washington, in a region known for its production of apples. On Antiterra it has an Academy of Drama with a "modest stage" where Ada in 1891 has her debut as Irina in Chekhov's Four Sisters. On Terra, Yakima has the Capitol Theatre, a vaudeville playhouse opened in 1920. It burnt down in 1975 but was carefully reconstructed in 1978 and today serves as a community center mainly for ambulant musicals.
Yukon A territory in the far northwest of the American continent, just like on earth. It is part of the U.S.A. (the United States of the Americas). While on earth Yukon is anglophone, on Antiterra it is predominantly Russian. On earth the capital is Whitehorse (which in Ada appears under its Russian name, "Belokonsk) whereas on Antiterra the capital seems to be the town of Yukonsk where Marina had attended the "Russian Institute for Noble Maidens." Possibly Yukonsk is just another name for Belokonsk.
Zembre A "quaint old town on the Minder River, near Sorcière, in the Valais." Having become too modern to their taste, the inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century reconstructed it in the old style on the other side of the Minder River so that now a new old and an older new town are facing each other. On earth, there does not seem to be a place in the vicinity of Sierre that would even roughly correspond to this description. Nor are 'Zembre' and 'Minder' existent toponyms in Switzerland.