Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020712, Sat, 11 Sep 2010 10:39:23 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: Parasites
Matt: 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.
JM: From the internet it is difficult to glean an informal kind of material concerning "hydatids." Like the botfly's ejecta (my only recollection of it derives from a holiday in a cattle-farm when, as a young child, I watched how the cowboys squeezed a lump from an infected animal's hide and something white, as big as a marble, plopped to the ground with a dry sound, followed by exclamations of disgust), I got my information about tapeworms from the other end (fortunately, hearsay evidence): Taeniasis ("solitária") and "cistocercose".

If I return to this obnoxious theme is because of two possible associations. Shade's seizures (a cyst is lodged in the nervous system?) or the repulsive way a tapeworm, after being torn in pieces while exiting from the anus, will reconstitute itself and multiply (it should never be split!).

The only relatively scientific text related to this, found in the internet, below:
Taeniasis Infection often is asymptomatic; however, mild gastrointestinal tract symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, and pain, can occur. Tapeworm segments can be seen migrating from the anus or in feces.

Cysticercosis Manifestations depend on the location and number of pork tapeworm cysts (cysticerci) and the host response. Cysts may be found anywhere in the body. The most common and serious manifestations are caused by cysts in the central nervous system. Cysts of Taenia solium in the brain (neurocysticercosis) can cause seizures, behavioral disturbances, obstructive hydrocephalus, and other neurologic signs and symptoms. In some countries, neurocysticercosis is a leading cause of epilepsy. The host reaction to degenerating cysts can produce signs and symptoms of meningitis. Cysts in the spinal column can cause gait disturbance, pain, or transverse myelitis. Subcutaneous cysts produce palpable nodules, and ocular involvement can cause visual impairment.

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