Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015468, Sat, 8 Sep 2007 16:53:21 -0300

Fw: [Nabokov-L] [Query: an addition on Annabel Lee,
Tamara and First Loves]

Dear List,

I received off-line more information about Lermontov's "Demon and Tamara" and about his effect on VN's novels and which was, apparently, greater than I imagined.
I was surprised to learn that the name Tamara came from the hebrew Tamar ( thanks to Victor Fet).
I googled for more information and learned that etymologically "Tamar" means "to remain erect" and it's applied to the date palm. In Portuguese, dates are named "tamaras" and its tree is "tamareira".

In Pale Fire, we find Kinbote's note to Line 998: Some neighbor's gardener, where he mentions "that admirable colonnade of trees ... a phoenix (now date palm)" .

A subsequent association was unavoidable: In "Lolita", we find a description about how HH thought he had recovered his lost "Annabel", as if a phoenix had risen from the ashes to find a new home in America.

If VN were aware of the etymology of "Tamar/ date palm", his reference to Shakespeare's "The Phoenix and the Turtle" and his single reference to an Arabian tree, through the date-palm, one might imagine that he was also recognizing a similar "rebirth" of his first loves, and Tamara.

And yet, most probably, he was only inscribing Shakespeare's title ( that mentions the Phoenix) close to WS's reference to a date-palm in this same work.

There is a coincidence, though, that might be of some importance. A.Bouazza was kind enough to find me a quotation from Speak, Memory, Chapter 12, section 4: 1st
paragraph: "...and the whole artificial scene struck me as something in a prettily illustrated,albeit sadly abridged, edition of "The Arabian Nights." . This reference to the Arabian Nights, not the only one in VN's entire oeuvre, nevetheless is made in VN's "Tamara" chapter in SM, an invented Tamara, whose name is "concolorous with her real one", which "kept cropping up (with the feigned naïveté so typical of Face, when meaning business)."

What else does VN write about Tamara, how could we find its linked to the date-palm?

(a) "I discovered her standing quite still (only her eyes were moving) in a birch grove, she seemed to have been spontaneously generated there, amongh those watchful trees, with the silent completeness of a mythological manifestation."...

(b) Years later, in the vicinity of Yalta, in a place that was "positively Baghdadian" VN received the letter from Tamara and recollected the above mentioned illustration of the Arabian Nights when ... "Suddenly I felt all the pangs of exile"..." the loss of my country was equated for me with the loss of my love."

[ He once called his Tamara, "Cynara"?]

mAda, in Glory, in

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