NABOKV-L post 0014694, Sun, 21 Jan 2007 10:47:31 -0800

KQKn "Red Admiral" PF
From Don Johnson:

The quote at bottom unearthed by the indefatigable Jansy is an informative gem in relation to PF. Here, as in PF, the Red Admiral appears to a harbinger of death (first--the dog Tom; second, Marta [rather than her husband, the intended victim]). This "mortality marker" is made even clearer in DN's translation (which, of course, incorporates only changes made by VN). In the original Russian, there is no Die toten Seelen (Gogol's Dead Souls)--only an unspecified "book." Similarly, the Russian describes (in my own literal translation) "Two men in top hats went by; their top hats--like corks in water, swam by over the fence. It was completely incomprehensible why they were wearing top hats."(Near end of chapter II.) DN's translation reads "Two men in top hats, diplomats or undertakers, went by: the top hats and black coats floated by along the fence."

Both of these revisions clearly establish the immanency of death as signaled by the Red Admiral--just as it does in PF.

VN apparently inserted the 1962 PF echoes into the 1968 KQKn English version. BTW, Jane Grayson in her NABOKOV TRANSLATED provides a close comparison of the Russian and English texts of KQKn noting the extensive alterations, but, does not (so far as I recall) comment on the significance above items. It is not often that an author has the opportunity to "back-quote" a later work.

Congratulations to Jansy on her find!

Best, Don

Speaking of prospective events, what about this long paragraph, written in 1927, if set in relation to the last lines of Pale Fire? He...
"sat in a canvas chair by a garden table and...gazed into the garden...A cold late-afternoon lucency penetrated the... air; the sharp blue shadows of the young trees stretched along the sunny lawn...The gardener had already twice taken hold of his wheelbarrow...the sun still bore down triumphantly on the right from behind the corner of the count's villa, which stood on higher ground with taller trees...The cloudlets in one part of the pale clean sky had funny curls... At last having heard all there was to hear and told all there was to tell, the gardener moved off with his wheelbarrow,turning with geometrical precision at the intersections of gravel paths, and Tom, rising lazily, proceeded to walk after him like a clockwork toy, turning when the gardener turned. Die toten Seelen by a Russian author...slid onto the flags of the floor...Two men in top hats, diplomats or undertakers, went by... Out of nowhere came a Red Admiral butterfly, settled on the edge of the table, opened its wings and began to fan them slowly as if in breathing. The dark-brown ground was bruised here and there, the scarlet band had faded, the fringes were frayed - but the creature was still so lovely, so festive..."

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