NABOKV-L post 0014787, Tue, 30 Jan 2007 10:26:46 -0800

Red Admiral/ Vanessa atalanta in Pale Fire
An idle note on a bilingual word play. In Kinbote's note to Line 949 he where he tracks (in imagination) Gradus' journey to New Wye, he describes his would-be assassin. On p. 277, we find:

"We can at last describe his tie, an Easter gift from a dressy butcher, his brother-in-law in Onhava: imitation silk, color chocolate brown, barred with red, the end tucked into the shirt between the second and third buttons, a Zemblan fashion of the nineteen thirties — and a father-waistcoat substitute according to the learned."

Although no explicit mention is made of a butterfly, astute commentators such as Dieter Zimmer correctly identify the tie pattern & colors as those of the ill-omened Red Admiral. What belatedly struck me today is that the Russian word for butterfly is "bAbochka" which in Russian (as in English) is the word for a "bow tie" which, of course, nicely resembles a butterfly. The implicit word play is not quite ideal since Gradus' tie is clearly not a bow tie since it is tucked into his shirt front.)

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