Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021978, Wed, 7 Sep 2011 11:50:22 -0300

Re: Ramsdale and a road sign to cities in fic..

Robert H. Boyle: Re Lolita, USA. [ Absently staring at the Nicki-channel for "Sponge Bob" and "Fairly Good Parents," I had the impression I saw "Ramsdale" and a road-sign indicating "Nabokovia."] Climax is not imaginary. It is in Greene County, New York.

JM: Thanks for the information RHB. It seems to be almost impossible to create a totally new name for a city (rock-band names are there first, or computer-game agents) but it happens. The oft remembered "Ramsdale" sounds very common and, perhaps, it doesn't exist only as a town in New Hampshire, but it can be also found somewhere else and, if it's not the case, it becomes an investigable verbal coinage (with rape indicated by 'rams'?) I'm afraid I invented the "Nabokovia" (which I'll now people with hockey and soccer players, various goalkeepers and even Babe Ruth, from the terribly vulgar book by Leslie Daniels on Nabokov's house).

Being vaguely interested in random events in literature and life, I've been trying to read Leonard Mlodinov's "The Drunkard's Walk (How randomness rules our lives)" for ages. Its first lines in the foreword are so promising that, mysteriously, I never proceed forward into the book! Giving it a new try today I was reminded, as it happens so often with me, of Nabokov and, now, his "liens dedaliens" (links-and-bobolinks) in Pale Fire.
Mlodinov's book starts with a story about a Spanish guy who explained why he won a big lottery prize by betting on n.48 (he said he dreamed seven times seven with it and, "since 7 x7=48," he decided to choose this number...). The saying "God moves in a mysterious way" in my country becomes "God writes straight with crooked lines," and there might be a French or a Russian equivalent to the suggested image in the Portuguese version for Nabokov's emphasis on tortuous individual mazes set straight by the motion of a printless thumb bears an interesting secondary,perhaps critical resonance to it.*
* Cf.: Pale Fire's Shade: "...topsy-turvical coincidence,/ Not flimsy nonsense, but a web of sense./ Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find/ Some kind of link-and-bobolink...
and Charles Kinbote on line 810 (A Web of Sense):"...fragment written by Lane on May 17, 1921, on the eve of his death...: "And if I had passed into that other land, whom would I have sought? ...Aristotle! - Ah, there would be a man to talk with! What satisfaction to see him take, like reins from between his fingers, the long ribbon of man's life and trace it through the mystifying maze of all the wonderful adventure.... The crooked made straight. The Daedalian plan simplified by a look from above - smeared out as it were by the splotch of some master thumb that made the whole involuted, boggling thing one beautiful straight line."

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