NABOKV-L post 0019122, Sun, 17 Jan 2010 12:14:01 -0700

Re: THOUGHTS re Iris Acht and re the Great Beaver
To Clayton Smith: I was very interested in your connection of Hazel to
Mascagni's /Iris/, including the blind father's rejection and the further
connection to a famous butterfly. However, I think it's more something that
the reader can enjoy than something we can feel sure Nabokov had in mind.
(So it's in the same category as the connection to Cabell's /Cream of the
Jest/ that I suggested here: )

To Alexey Sklyarenko: I must report the prosaic fact that "beaver" is
obsolete slang for "beard" or "a bearded man". See Partridge and Beale: /A
Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English/, p. 62.

The double connection to Castro and the vegetarianism of beavers (both which
I would never have thought of) may be more things we can enjoy than things
Nabokov had in mind.

By the way, "beaver" is also slang for a woman's pubes. This is attested
back to 1927 but didn't become popular till the 1960s, according to Dalzell,
/The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional
English/, p. 57.

It's still possible that Nabokov knew it. If so, it seems in character for
Gerald Emerald, as Kinbote shows him to us, to use this hidden sexual
vulgarity to the secretary. But Nabokov may not have known it or intended
it at all.

Jerry Friedman

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