NABOKV-L post 0012095, Sat, 19 Nov 2005 19:00:06 -0800

Fwd: Re: Query: Colors in Nabokov's novels

----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 19:05:36 -0600
From: Scott Houldin <>
Reply-To: Scott Houldin <>
Subject: Re: Query: Colors in Nabokov's novels

One of Alfred Appel's notes in his annotations to Lolita deals with this
directly. See the note for pg 56/1. Nabokov color's, as well as everything
else associated with his prose, seem to me to serve his goal of 'aesthetic
bliss' rather than any sort of structured symbolism. In fact, he
remonstrates Appel for placing too much import on this in his annotations.
On 11/19/05, Donald B. Johnson <> wrote:
> EDNOTE. There is, I recall, a dissertation in colors in ADA and several
> people
> have taken note of VN's elaborate use of color terms both in actual
> descriptions and in thematic "color-coding." If I were doing your project,
> I
> would run computer searches on all noted colors, copy them and their
> contexts
> into a separate files, group them by color (and also the modified noun) ,
> and
> then start looking for patterns. Perhaps other subscribers can point you
> to
> points of interest. Do be cautious since VN once castigated a student for
> automatically associating "green" with nature, etc, etc. VN often used it
> in
> connection with death. You might also want to look at the first chapter of
> my
> old book (Worlds n Regression) which examines synaesthesia and the rainbow
> motif in Speak, Memory.
> ----- Forwarded message from -----
> Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 19:40:34 -0500
> From:
> Reply-To:
> Subject: Inquiry from a Nabokovian
> To:
> Hello, Don. I wasn't sure how to go about posting this question to the
> list, and
> since I assume that all e-mails have to get past you anyways, I figured I
> might
> as well just send this to you and you can forward it to the list at large?
> I'd
> appreciate it.
> I'm currently enrolled in a class on Nabokov, and for my final paper, I'm
> very
> interested in the theme of color, specifically in Lolita. After reading
> several
> novels and short stories, I've noticed that there are some colors that
> appear
> over and over and over again.
> Purple is one I only started picking up while reading Lolita, but
> afterwards, I
> couldn't help but notice it everywhere I looked. Black is common, and a
> lot of
> the women that figure prominently in Nabokov's works end up wearing things
> that
> are made of black velvet, specifically. Red is another major color, and
> grey as
> well, especially where irises are concerned.
> Can anyone reccomend any resources I might look up in regards to this
> topic? I'm
> mainly interested in this repetition of color and its significance. In
> Nabokov's
> world, a knife is never just a knife, and even if I can't understand all
> of it
> most of the time, I know the colors are specifically chosen for a reason.
> All
> and any bits of help or at least a nudge in the right direction would be
> much
> appreciated.
> -Michal
> ----- End forwarded message -----

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