Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015742, Sun, 2 Dec 2007 06:27:16 +0000

Re: THOUGHTS: Wenches, hands, and apples
On 1/12/07 23:09, "NABOKV-L" <NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU> wrote:

> Who was that wench? Was it Maude herself. Probably not. Too old for
> one thing as a wench is a young one.

>> Carolyn: without daring to identify Shade¹s wench (I¹m still busy working on
>> that elusive Dark Shady Lady!), I would point out the danger of deducing her
>> age from the noun used. True, wench is currently [Dictionary definition 1]
>> applied to girls (buxom ones, ideally) but there¹s been considerable semantic
>> drift (ebb¹n¹flow) over the years, including hints of promiscuity and
>> prostitution regardless of age [Dictionary definitions 2, 3, 4 ... esp. the
>> naughty implications of ³Here we go a-wenching!² where the target age-group
>> is flexible.] In fact, in Shade¹s day & context, and even in our own today,
>> the choice of wench seems a deliberate nudge-wink poetic archaism. with the
>> added advantage of rhyming with quench. We are back to reminding ourselves
>> that Shade (via VN) is writing poetry. And, indeed, poetry dripping with
>> mock-archaic fancies, not least the Popish [sic?] prosody.
>> Stan Kelly-Bootle
> The answer is in another sly sexual metaphor that Nabokov has Shade
> indulge in as he trims his cuticles (I don't know how, but scarfskin
> probably is a reference to foreskin) and imagines the five fingers of
> his hand are characters from his past. They are in fact his past
> sexual partners (apparently manually mostly) there are two females in
> the ring and pinky fingers - - the pinky is the wench. I believe
> there is some reference to a Canadian girl, a servant, in Canto One.
> What relationship she has to Sybil, if any, I haven't figured out.
> Carolyn Kunin
> p.s. Why "dead wench" Jansy?
> ***
> Dear Andrew Brown,
> Consider, please, the possibility that Shade and Kinbote are the same
> person!
> Carolyn Kunin

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