Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021982, Thu, 8 Sep 2011 14:34:48 +0100

Re: Ramsdale and a road sign to cities in fic..
JansyM: I wasn¹t blaming VN for your creative* Ramsdale conjecture!

* Compare: Creative Accounting.

I¹m not even denying VN his wonderfully amusing word-games, anagrams, and
teasing puns. I¹m saying that none of these childlike trivia makes a
significant contribution to his enduring reputation as a narratival and
stylistic humourist of genius.

The latter involves building plots/situations/characters at many Œcomedic¹
levels. It transcends, but may usefully exploit, word-play, puns, allusive
names (funny and serious!), and telling jokes in the traditional style
(³Have you heard the one about ... ³)

>However jokes and puns seldom if ever rely on established etymologies. JM

Ramsdale is neither joke nor pun. Is it even a deliberately planted allusion
seeking our spade work? (I meantersay, whatever name you pick for a town (or
person), it¹s going to have some semantic ripples.) Only VN/God knows! He
was fond of disowning the allusion-hunters¹ finds. But, absolutely no fatal
harm in assuming Ramsdale holds some intended relevance to the plot; in
fact, harmless fun if time permits. It turns out that Ramsdale is an
existing place-name of Anglo-Saxon origin, with many name-alike toponyms
world wide.

Pace Jansy, the first things to check are indeed the etymologies. Not just
(Rams + Dale) but the place names Ramsdale and Rams-xxxx. We get three
plausibly fructuose links: RAM=randy-animal; RAVEN [hraefn] =Edgar Allan
Poe?!; GARLIC [hramsa] =vampires.
If these don¹t grab you, try the anagrams: Mal de Ars; Les Drama; Le Madras.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 08/09/2011 02:48, "Jansy" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Stan LIOB:..."Jansy¹s analysis of Ramsdale relies on over-literal readings
> (ram -> animal -> rape), confirming my conviction that VN¹s wordplay is a
> trivial and often misleading diversion, diluting his true, inimitable
> genius...Can you see how word-misplay, merely matching surface letters, such
> as r-a-m, can lead one astray?"
> JM: Don't blame Nabokov for the conjecture I ventured in relation to his
> choice for "Ramsdale". In many other instances I can agree with your
> accessment, despite S.Karlinski's observations about Russian punning,
> countering E. Wilson's criticism. However jokes and puns seldom if ever rely
> on established etymologies. I was happier when musing about Isaiah's "the
> crooked made straight and the rough places plain," by Kinbote to Shade's "web
> of sense." and the changes popular sayings suffer when they travel from one
> culture to another

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