NABOKV-L post 0020717, Sat, 11 Sep 2010 17:40:07 EDT

Re: [NABOKOV-L] Butterflies, moths: "mariposa bruxa"
In a message dated 9/11/2010 4:13:07 PM Central Daylight Time,
jansy@AETERN.US writes:
> John Shade: "A dark Vanessa with a crimson band/ Wheels in the low sun,
> settles on the sand/ And shows ink-blue wingtips flecked with white..."
> (993-5)
> Charles Kinbote: "One minute before his death, as we were crossing from
> his demesne to mine... a Red Admirable...came dizzily whirling around us
> like a colored flame. Once or twice we had already noticed the same
> individual, at that same time, on that same spot, where the low sun finding an
> aperture...splashed the brown sand with a last radiance... One's eyes could not
> follow the rapid butterfly as it flashed and vanished, and flashed again,
> with an almost frightening imitation of conscious play which now culminated
> in its settling upon my delighted friend's sleeve...Then the tide of the
> shade reached the laurels, and the magnificent, velvet-and-flame creature
> dissolved in it."
> JM: The quotes from Pale Fire describe the apparition of a Red Admirable,
> close to the end of Shade's poem and of his life.
> Shade could not have written about it and,only then, got up to walk along
> with Kinbote for a knackle of nuts and a glass of Tokay,when he came
> across this same butterfly.What strikes me most in Shade's lines is how he
> brings up minute details, which he couldn't have seen from a distance, exceept
> through the eyes of his memory (the ink-blue wingtips flecked with white).
> Besides, the specific butterfly, his "dark" Vanessa (why dark?), settles
> with its wings open like a night-moth (otherwise the wingtips, as described,
> wouldn't be discernible).
> Kinbote spins a different story altogether. He explains the insertion of
> the butterfly in Shade's poem, and their subsequent stroll cum Red Admiral,
> by informing,quite casually, that it was "the same individual" which both
> had encountered before in curious situations. He adds a mysterious and
> magical mood into his report, an "almost frightening imitation of conscious
> play". He also creates a "phaneros" ( Boyd's Orphic Phanes, or "a flame that
> appears and vanishes...). He also exalts its red color, unlike Shade.
> Kinbote's "ominous" Vanessa is, indeed, a Red admiral, "a colored flame" or a
> "velvet-and-flame" creature. Although he mentions the sand, like Shade did
> in his verse, and an approaching "tide of the shade" that "dissolves it"
> Kinbote's (insistently) flaming insect settles on Shade's sleeve, not on the
> sand.*
The third line is misquoted. It should be "And shows its ink-blue wingtips
flecked with white."

Here is a photo of a Vanessa on the ground:

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