Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015512, Sat, 29 Sep 2007 08:26:29 -0300

Re: QUERY: Two LATH! Questions
Matt wrote that " While looking into the passages in LATH! concerning VV's relationship with Bel (including a stay at the Lupine Lodge) VV says she [ Bel] resembles the girl in Serov's painting Five-petaled Lilac, who sits at a table "manipulating a raceme of lilac in search of that lucky token." What, pray tell, is the lucky token?
Don answered Matt that "Lilacs normally have four petals, but rarely five. If you find a five petal one, you are supposed to eat it to bring happiness."

JM: Checking wikipedia's "Lilacs" I found there are connections bt. the lepidoptera ( Copper Underwing, Scalloped Oak and Svensson's Copper Underwing) which feed on it but that also favor the hazel tree ( with its catkins).
There are lilacs that are designated as "syringa wolfii" ( the wolf in Lupine Lodge?) that grow in China, Korea and E.Russia. (an internet- paperchase location of "Lupine Lodge" or... the residence of Dr.Schmetterling?)
We cannot fail to acknowledge the malice present in VN's sentence "manipulating a raceme...lucky token", i.e, botanically it probably refers to the lilac's (rare!) fifth petal. And yet, it also suggests ( by Freudian pollination) a lucky "member" added to the normal four existing ones, one that Bel hopes to encounter during her racemal manipulations.

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