NABOKV-L post 0010751, Thu, 9 Dec 2004 09:25:14 -0800

Fwd: RE: more on lunette
----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 11:45:11 +0900
From: Akiko Nakata <>

Dear Brian,

Thank you very much for your clarification. The lunette line certainly
echoes the ending of IB and THE
GRANDFATHER (and the mock execution of Chenyshevsky, and perhaps "Razor" as
a variation).

May I ask about something still not clear to me?
I do not understand exactly why "lunette" should be in 7 letters.
Hit-and-miss, cause-and-effect, future-and-lunette (or lunette-and-future,
if the meaning is focused on)?

Best wishes,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 2:29 AM
Subject: Fwd: RE: more on lunette

> Dear Akiko and All,
> OED has "lunette" in VN's sense (9: "In the guillotine, the circular hole
> which receives the neck of the victim"). Using the COD for Nabokov is a
> little like hoping to catch a blue whale with a bent needle and thread.
> The reasons VN uses words like this is because: 1) they're right in
> themselves. No other word could do in 7 letters what VN does here; 2)
> rightness can be amusing (as here: see below); 3) they often invite
> to discovery.
> In this case, there is a fine if macabre Nabokovian joke: "some 'future'
> events may be likelier than others, O.K., but all are chimeric, and every
> cause-and-effect sequence is always a hit-and-miss affair, even if the
> lunette has actually closed around your neck, and the cretinous crowd
> its breath." Not only does this seethe with VN's contempt for capital
> punishment; not only does it replay the ending of INVITATION TO A
> and even more precisely, the turning point of the early play THE
> GRANDFATHER; but the guillotine was devised as a "humane" form of killing,
> where the executioner's axe wouldn't descend at the wrong angle, or with
> insufficient force, or the head wouldn't move in panic to be sliced into
> an agonizing but non-lethal way. The lunette ensured the head and neck
> exactly in place; so guillotining supposedly guaranteed that decapitation
> wasn't "a hit-and-miss affair." Yet even here, where the very design seems
> to rule out all leeway, all chance for accident or error, "every
> cause-and-effect sequence is still a hit-and-miss affair."
> Remember VN's response to Edmund Wilson's objection to VN's "addiction to
> rare and unfamiliar words": "It does not occur to him that I may have rare
> and unfamiliar things to convey; that is his loss." (SO 250)
> Brian Boyd
> ----- Forwarded message from -----
> Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 23:49:15 +0900
> From: Akiko Nakata <>
> Jansy sent me the difinitions of "lunette" given by COD. When I translated
> TT, I was satisfied with the 3rd definition in Webster 2 (as Jansy cited,
> "the hole in a guillotine for the victim's neck") and did not think about
> its meaning any more. I confess I did not know the other dictionaries did
> not give that meaning. I have just found Webster 3 does not have it
> Why did VN choose such rare terms--anide, lunette, kix? Another definition
> of lunette in Webster 2, "a watch crystal flattened in the center" reminds
> me of "The entire solar system is but a reflection in the crystal of my
> your) wrist watch" in the last letter from Mr. R. It sounds close to the
> too. But I have no idea about the meaning of the crystal connection.
> Akiko
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello" <>
> To: "Akiko Nakata" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 10:34 AM
> Subject: Fw: more on lunette
> > Concise Oxford Dictionary:
> > 1. an arched aperture in a domed ceiling to admit light; 2. a
> > crescent-shaped (meniscus? JM ) or semicircular space or alcove which
> > contains a painting, statue ( not a Pauline Anide, I´m sure...); 3. a
> > watch-glass of flattened shape; 4. a ring through which a hook is
> > placed to attach a vehicle to the
> vehicle
> > towing it;
> > 5. a temporary fortification with two faces forming a salient angle,
> > and
> two
> > flanks;
> > 6. RC Church a holder for the consecrated host in a monstrance.
> > French diminutive of lune.
> > In the Oxford Dic. there is no entry for the "guillotine", as in the
> former
> > mailing with: " the hole in the guillotine for the victim´s neck" by
> James
> > L. Taylor in the Websters! ( I wonder why )
> >
> >
> ----- End forwarded message -----
> ----- End forwarded message -----

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