NABOKV-L post 0010435, Mon, 18 Oct 2004 14:30:21 -0700

Re: Opening of chapter 17, Laughter in the Dark

Quoting Frans Meulenberg <>:

> The opening of chapter 17 from Laughter in the Dark:
> 'A certain man', said Rex, as he turned around the corner with
> Margot, 'once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and
> twenty years later, on the exact day, a friday apparantly, he was
> eating a large fish - but here was no diamond inside. That's what I
> like about coincidence'.
> My questions are these:
> - Can we find this passage also in the Russian original (journal
> version) of Kamera Obscura (I'm sorry, I cannot read Russian)?
> - Somehow this anecdote seems familiar to me. Does any of you know
> whether is this an original thought of VN, or is there an earlier
> source?
> Thanks in advance.
> Frans Meulenberg

EDNOTE. The quoted first paragraph below correponds to the begining of chapter
16 in the original Russian text which has a different opening paragraph that
reads (in my own crude translation):

"However,--said Gorn when he and Magda turned the corner. However,--he
repeated. I confess,---he added after half a minute, --that I didn't expect to
find you so easily."

The two texts then coincide.
VN did a good many revisions in his Englishing of the original Jane Grayson
provides an account of the differences in her book _Nabokov Translated_.

As to the originality of "diamond in the fish," it and its variants occur in
many folklores.