NABOKV-L post 0020814, Fri, 1 Oct 2010 18:43:15 +0100

Re: Nabokov's eyes
Jansy: enjoyed reading all your citations where VN’s characters have
Hazel(ic) eyes.

Your next MISSION, if you dare accept it, is to find ALL references where VN
describes eyes
that are NOT-hazel(ic)! (Google’s Boolean tools may be stretched?).

Next, list ALL the specific eye-colour names used by VN. Simplify names and
calculate percentages.

Finally, and hardest (Google offers no help), ponder if the choice of
eye-colour has any SIGNIFICANCE, e.g.,
providing CLUES to VN’s narratival intentions, or affecting how we perceive
the characters thus described.

I guess Nabokov would shun the romantic stereotypes, such as Steel-Blue-eyed
Heroes, or seductive female
Dark Eyes (avoid Black Eyes, of course!), both beguiling and terrifying in
the well-known song:

Очи чёрные, очи страстные
Очи жгучие и прекрасные
Как люблю я вас, как боюсь я вас
Знать, увидел вас я в недобрый час
(by Ukrainian poet, Yevhen Hrebinka (Євген Павлович Гребінка, to use the
appropriate Cyrillics!)

I suppose one exception is that an Albino character can hardly avoid being
er er exceptional? Similarly the
one-eyed, those with false eye-balls, and the few people who boast eyes of
different colours, left and right?
And those who wear colour filters to match their mood and dress.

Lolita no doubt had flirty, flirty eyes (for the flirty, flirty guys) but
off-hand, I can’t recall their colour, either in
the novel or the movies. My own limited experience is that other physical
factors play a higher role in the
dating/mating game, but having fallen, I can retrospectively blame (or
bless) her eye-colour, elevating it above
all other eyes. (cf the songs, “Jeepers, creepers, where d’you get them
peepers ...” and “Your eyes are the eyes of a
Woman in love, And O how they give you away ... “)

I can’t put my hands on my copy, but Jansy might know if VN’s THE EYE
(Sogliadatai) mentions ITS colour ;=)

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 30/09/2010 20:02, "Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Stephen Blackwell: No time for research right now, but my memory and at least
> one source gives Nabokov's eyes a hazel shade.
> ..The Atlantic's ninth editor-in-chief, Edward Weeks. The two men were
> introduced in 1941 by the critic Edmund Wilson and began to meet regularly for
> lunch at th eRutz Hotel in Boston. Weeks was enchanted by Nabokov. As the
> editor recalled years later in an interview,"He would come in a shabby tweed
> coat, trousers bulging at the knee, but be quite the most distinguished man in
> the room, with his perfectly beautiful hazel eys, his fine brown hair, the
> elan, the spark . . . ." Any significance to the present discussion?
> JM: I tried to find the reference using google-desktop. I came with various
> (uncertain) references to hazel eyes:
> Sebastian Knight "It contained among other things a wicked Chinaman who
> snarled, a brave girl with hazel eyes, and a big quiet fellow whose knuckles
> turned white when someone really annoyed him..."
> Despair(?): "I sometimes used to ask myself, what on earth did I love her for?
> Maybe for the warm hazel iris of her fluffy eyes, or for the natural side-wave
> of her brown hair... But, probably the truth was that I loved her because she
> loved me... I remember once, when I first put on that new dinner jacket, with
> the vast trousers, she clapsed her hands, sank down on a chair and murmured:
> 'Oh, Hermann...."
> La Veneziana: "The painting was very fine indeed. Luciani had portrayed the
> Venetian beauty in half-profile... she have frozen motionless, her
> hazel, uniformly dark eyes gazing fixedly, languidly from the canvas.
> Solus Rex ( or Ultima Thule) in a small island of text there's an interlingual
> mention to Hazel (cf. the color of VN's passport-eyes): "The words of the
> family arms, "see and rule" (sassed ud halsem), used to be changed by wags,
> when referring to him, to "armchair and filbert brandy" (sasse ud hazel)."
> Scott's Lady of the Lake, the poem from which Nabokov borrowed the name Hazel
> Shade, opens with the famous chase of a stag by a hunter that begins in the
> woods of Glenartney and ends at the shore of Loch Katrine... Scott's poetry
> thus connects Kinbote's Zemblan past with the story of Hazel's life... Cf.
> Nabokov's Pale Fire and the Romantic Movement (with special reference to the
> Brocken, Scott and Goethe) by Gerard de Vries
> I also dipped through Strong Opinions and Speak,Memory, looking for a
> reference to Nabokov's description of what his passport information contained.
> As usual, I was led astray and got nowhere special.
> Anyway, I was reminded that Nabokov's nose is " a Korff nose" (SM,ch.3,p.53)
> and a concrete version of a versipel is "a sheepskin with the leather outside"
> worn by the Nabokovscoachman Zahar (ch.5, 98). In SO, p.83, Nabokov gets angry
> at questions related to "The Doppelg*anger" theme ("the subject is a frightful
> bore..." "I do not see any Doubles in 'Laughter in the Dark.' A lover can be
> viewed as the betrayed party's Double but that is pointless."
> At least, these collected curiosities may point the way for further searches
> and be more easily recoverable through search-machines and pursued in
> detail...

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