Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015513, Fri, 28 Sep 2007 12:48:18 -0700

Re: QUERY: Two LATH! Questions

The "lucky token" he's searching the cluster of lilac blossoms for would seem to be a single five-petaled lilac blossom--something presumably as rare and good-luck-bringing as a four-leaf clover in a patch of standard three-leaf clovers.

Barry Warren

Matthew Roth <MRoth@MESSIAH.EDU> wrote: While looking into the passages in LATH! concerning VV's relationship with Bel (including a stay at the Lupine Lodge) I've been stumped by a couple of things.

1) In his description of Bel, VV says she 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? I can't find any antecedent in the passage and since it is not lilac season right now I can't try the experiment myself.

2) Does there exist anywhere an explication of Bel's second poem, about the wolf's head and "Medor, a dead dog"? VV implies that he could give it a Kinbotean reading, but I haven't been able to get very far. I admit that I am not yet up-to-date on all the existing LATH! criticism, so I'm hoping someone has already figured it out and will make it easy for me!

By the way, I am working on the notion that Bel's name should bring to mind Annabel Leigh (VV calls her Isabel Lee but it's hard to know if that's her real name or not) but also Christabel, the Cinderella figure who fled from her father's incestuous advances. Also, the lilac here should link Bel to Ophelia and thus to the Rusalka/Naiads theme that runs through several novels.

Matt Roth
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