[NABOKOV-L] More on Ronsard's and Belleau "slit" in Lolita.
Checking Ronsard and Belleau, in "Lolita": "Friday. I wonder what my academic publishers would say if I were to quote in my textbook Ronsard's "la vermeillette fente" or Remy Belleau's "un petit mont feutré de mousse délicate, tracé sur le milieu d'un fillet escarlatte" and so forth. I shall probably have another breakdown if I stay any longer in this house, under the strain of this intolerable temptation, by the side of my darling - my darling - my life and my bride." ( AL, p. 47) ..."and I felt adolori d'amoureuse langueur, to quote dear old Ronsard, as I reached the cottage where I had left my Dolores." (AL, 214) Cf. also Appel's notes on p.359
Worthy of note: I just realized that there's a relationship between the word "slit" ( in its sexual acception), "blinds" and Lolita's eyes*
It may be useful to return to Nab-L archives for more items on the theme of "slit"(I remember this year there were several elaborations over it)
On Ronsard, cf. also Maurice Couturier -« The Distinguished Writer vs the Child », Cycnos, Volume 10 n°1, mis en ligne le 13 juin 2008, URL : http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/index.html?id=1287. " A pity, by the way, that Mademoiselle did not read all of Ronsard's poetry to him. He would never have claimed, as he did in a letter, that he had invented the French word "nymphette" : "I am informed that a French motion picture company is about to make a picture entitled 'The Nymphets' ('Les Nymphettes'). The use of this title is an infringement of my rights since this term was invented by me for the main character in my novel Lolita and has now become completely synonymous with Lolita in the minds of readers throughout the world."17 The French word appeared in the late fifteenth century and was later used by Ronsard in one of his "Chansons":
Petite Nymphe folâtre,
Nymphette que j'idolâtre,
Ma mignonne, dont les yeux
Logent mon pis et mon mieux.
The opening lines could be translated as follows: "Little gamesome nymph,/ Nymphet I idolize." It is always tricky to claim one's rights upon a word, especially a foreign word which is easily derived from a very common one. Nabokov knew his Ronsard, of course, and he quoted him in Lolita, but apparently he did not know this "chanson" which was set to music by Clément Jannequin. It is thanks to him, though, that the word got a new lease on life in French in the very special meaning we know. "
btw: Another indirect reference to "ensellure" is to be found in "Lolita" (Cf. AL p.67: "The hollow of my hand was still ivory-full of Lolita - full of the feel of her pre-adolescently incurved back, that ivory-smooth, sliding sensation of her skin..." There may be others.
de Ronsard, Pierre: [Lolita] (1524-1585) A prominent French Renaissance poet quoted in Humbert's journal; the quote is in praise of female genitalia: "oh little red slit." www.davidson.edu/academic/english/.../zk/.../r.htm (Remy Belleau's: "un petit mont feutré de mousse delicate, tracé sur le milieu d'un fillet escarlatte" ).
Here is a sample: " (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever...and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness...the tenderness and the azure - all would be shattered....Now, I do not remember if I have mentioned that Lolita always had an absolutely enchanting smile for strangers, a tender furry slitting of the eyes, a dreamy sweet radiance of all her features which did not mean a thing of course, but was so beautiful, so endearing that one found it hard to reduce such sweetness to but a magic gene automatically lighting..." (AL 285)
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