Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026980, Fri, 6 May 2016 20:10:53 -0300

{NABOKV-L] Noctis equi and magic...
A.Sklyarenko: In a poem that he composed in a Quebec sanatorium Humbert Humbert calls Lolita “my car pet” and asks her “what make is the magic carpet:” [ snip] "And where are you parked, my car pet? (2.25)"

Jansy Mello: A very interesting connection between car pet and carpet, Alexey. When I went back to the original lines in their context and read them anew, I was captured by the mystery they contain: a poetic moment of utter lunacy on HH's part magnificently rendered in words. "the enchanted interspace slid on intact...mirage-like..." since a spell was "cast on that interspace, a zone of evil mirth and magic...a glass-like virtue...an invisible rope of silent silk connected it..." (and I couldn't help being reminded of HH, at the beginning of his adventure, controlling Lolita's movements in the house like a spider* but there is a significant difference in the eery glassy gliding of the second image).

"But next day, like pain in a fatal disease that comes back as the drug and hope wear off, there it was again behind us, that glossy red beast. The traffic on the highway was light that day; nobody passed anybody; and nobody attempted to get in between our humble blue car and its imperious red shadow — as if there were some spell cast on that interspace, a zone of evil mirth and magic, a zone whose very precision and stability had a glass-like virtue that was almost artistic. The driver behind me, with his stuffed shoulders and Trappish mustache, looked like a display dummy, and his convertible seemed to move only because an invisible rope of silent silk connected it with out shabby vehicle. We were many times weaker than his splendid, lacquered machine, so that I did not even attempt to outspeed him. O lente currite noctis equi! O softly run, nightmares! We climbed long grades and rolled downhill again, and heeded speed limits, and spared slow children, and reproduced in sweeping terms the black wiggles of curves on their yellow shields, and no matter how and where we drove, the enchanted interspace slid on intact, mathematical, mirage-like, the viatic counterpart of a magic carpet. And all the time I was aware of a private blaze on my right: her joyful eye, her flaming cheek. (2, 18) "

I was curious enough to check Humbert's translation of the Latin words he used, when "noctes equi" became "nightmares."
HH must have been practicing some kind of "poetic licence" to deal with his delirant feelings of persecution and doubling, here changing the gender of "equi" (horses into mares) and then actual meaning of the word "mare" itself (a mythological demon**). Magic terrifying dreams that could also tug at a reader's heart...

Alexey, do you find any connection bt. "Lolita's" Flora, TOoL's Flora Wild and Ada's "floramors" and a "weeded out" Flora?


* "I am like one of those inflated pale spiders you see in old gardens. Sitting in the middle of a luminous web and giving little jerks to this or that strand. My web is spread all over the house as I listen from my chair where I sit like a wily wizard. Is Lo in her room? Gently I tug on the silk. She is not." (1,10)

** The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first used of "nightmare" in English to around 1300, as "a female spirit or monster supposed to settle on and produce a feeling of suffocation in a sleeping person or animal." https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/the-spooky-history-of-nightmare/

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