Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020708, Fri, 10 Sep 2010 14:39:24 -0300

Re: Scry and mysteries
Stan[ to JM's "another Nabokovian coinage is the unsoft "mollitude", often applied to Villa Venus...However, non-etymological associations are common in our mind's underworld, particularly in the case of polyglots such as Nabokov"] he 17th century slang, Molly for tart/prostitute has survived chiefly in the American gangster's MOLL. But, slang comes and goes. We still have the wonderful MOLLYCODDLE, meaning 'to pamper.' And, note that almost any girl's name can be used offensively for gay males ...VN's MOLLITUDE is a sweet portmanteau coinage, which SHOULD mean something like soft-centred solitude? It follows all the rules of English agglutination, as with certitude and plenitude. Well done with LUX-NUX-NOX. All three words are valid in both Latin and English dictionaries.An all proper-English word-golf solution offers a HOLE IN ONE, of course: LIGHT-NIGHT. Or vice-versa, since all solutions are reversible.

JM: Light/Night, hole in one. Looks so easy! Mollitude is a kind of "mollycoddling" (those soft-running velvet-cushioned carriages leading to Villa Venus) but your "polyglot-mind's underworld" added a particular item ("soft-centered solitude"). Nice.

Matt Roth: All the recent discussion of Botkin's relationship to Kinbote (and K's relationship to Shade), brought me back to Carolyn Kunin's discussion of Jekyll & Hyde. Carolyn pointed out the parasite theme in PF and related it to VN's lecture on Stevenson, where he whimsically relates Hyde's name to hydatid, "a tiny pouch within the body of man and other animals, a pouch containing a limpid fluid with larval tapeworms in it--a delightful arrangement, for the little tapeworms at least." VN's definition here is quite similar to the definition in Webster's 2nd, so we can imagine that, while researching Hyde's name, VN came across this similar word and noted the fitting connection. It is apparent, however, that VN's interest in parasites included more than just definitions in the dictionary. When preparing to write PF, he must have looked up info on the bot-fly...The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 48:558, describing the undesirable nature of tapeworms, which "frequently crawl out of a person's anal canal"... it does contain an extensive description of "hydatid disease." Did VN consider using a tapeworm as the parasitic image in PF before settling on the bot-fly? Was he led to this article by a card catalogue entry for "hydatid"? ...

JM: Inspite of the reference to "hydatid" in VN's lecture and the parasitic behavior of the botfly I very much doubt it that Nabokov would have linked the two. Teniasis (also designated by "solitaria" ie, enjoying intestinal mollitudes) is so very different from what one finds in cattle infected by "bicho berna" (the larvae inserted into an animal's skin by a botfly). Nabokov cannot have approached such different parasites as if related, not even in his verbal dreams!

I'm frustrated because I couldn't yet locate the link someone made between Phanes and the pythagorean butterfly (there's a "butterfly theorem" though). Wandering through esoteric places, I found one entry which hints at Kinbote's apparent displeasure with the Red Admirable (would it lay eggs directly on rotten organic matter?), a link between butterflies and witches.
Here it is: "Butterflies symbolize witches and fairies, but also the souls of witches. Butterflies and witches have the ability to change their form - butterflies change in the course of their development - witches allegedly can change at will. Some people who view the butterfly as the soul of a witch believe that, if they can find her body and turn it around while she is asleep, the soul will not be able to find her mouth and reenter, and the witch will probably die. This concept of the soul may serve to explain why many medieval angels have butterfly wings rather than those of a bird" www.spelwerx.com/symbols.html

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