NABOKV-L post 0016069, Mon, 10 Mar 2008 09:59:22 -0400

Re: Location of New Wye
I will gladly concede Jerry's point about the Diana and Atlantis appearing
in Highland County. We might also include Augusta County, home of Staunton
(pronounced Stanton), which is adjacent to both Highland and Rockingham
counties. It also hosts both the Diana and Atlantis, as well as a lot of
Botkins. In any case, I think we have narrowed down the area sufficiently.
No real need to be more exact, since I don't think any of the particular
local landmarks appear in the novel.

The prevalence of Botkins in this area, however, might enlighten us a
little bit regarding a question that has always vexed me: is Botkin a
Russian-born emigre (as Nabokov seems to say in the interview where he calls
him "a Russian and a madman") or a natural-born American whose ancestors
were Russian (as the Index's "American scholar of Russian descent") seems to
imply. If VN did indeed know of the Botkin name in this area of Virginia,
we might be drawn toward the latter interpretation. This website -- --
would seem to show that Russian Botkins have been in this area of WV and VA
for a very long time. Then again, perhaps Russian Botkins of a more recent
generation could be drawn to this area via old familiar ties.

Matt Roth

>>> On 3/10/2008 at 12:09 AM, in message <>,
Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU> wrote:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] CORRECTION: Parthenocissus
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2008 19:12:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman <> ( )
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU> (

Random comments on Parthenocissus.

Some sources say the name "Parthenocissus" is connected to
"Virginia" (creeper); others say the name originated because
/Parthenocissus/ can produce seeds without pollination.

I regret to report that cedar waxwings don't eat Virginia
creeper berries, according to

I can't find any mention of them eating Boston ivy berries,
which means they probably don't.

Boston ivy is not native to Boston (it's from eastern
Asia) and is not an ivy.

More to the point, I completely agree with Matt that New
Wye is in Virginia (or West Virginia), at the latitude
of Palermo, not near Boston. I'd currently put it in
Highland County, Virginia, where both /Speyeria diana/
and /Speyeria atlantis/ occur (thanks to the wonderful
state range maps at
and where there's a Botkin Hollow (thanks to Victor Fet).
(Neither the diana nor the atlantis has been recorded in
Rockingham County, where Harrisonburg is, and the diana
hasn't been recorded in Pendleton County, West Va.,
which was my other choice.)

I must say /Parthenocissus/ never reminded me of the
slang "grapevine", though they're related, but I did
enjoy Jansy's suggestion of a connection with the French
/jaseur/ and with the faculty gossip that Kinbote

Jerry Friedman

[PS sent by JF later:]
Sorry, I meant to add that Highland County is "Virginia's
Switzerland" (according to Wikipedia). I like the idea
of Nabokov in Switzerland's Switzerland setting his story
in Virginia's, and including scenes in Switzerland so
the two would mirror each other.

Jerry Friedman

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