NABOKV-L post 0010778, Sat, 11 Dec 2004 21:51:38 -0800

Fwd: Re: DN on Sabbath question in "Signs & Symbols"

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 20:41:35 EST

I should like to thank Dmitri Nabokov, Alexander Dolinin, and Carolyn Kunin
for their responses to my remarks on the Sabbath question in "Signs and

Carolyn Kunin's suggestion that maybe the woman has remembered the Sabbath
rather than the keys doesn't ring true to me. A Jewish woman who keeps the
Sabbath simply doesn't forget! The whole day is structured around it. True, she
had a shock at the sanatorium (although surely not altogether unexpected),
but she would have prepared the supper before they went to the sanatorium.

Anyway, had she been a Sabbath-observing Jew, she would not have bought
anything after dark, and the kosher shops would have been long closed, even for
cold already-cooked fish (e.g. gefilte fish or cold fried haddock) that Jews
often eat on the Sabbath.

It seems inconceivable that had they lit the Shabbat candles and said the
Shabbat prayers, both integral to a Shabbat meal, the narrator would not have
told us.

No, they must be nominally Jewish, but non-"practising", refugees, as
Alexander Dolinin says. I did not mean to suggest otherwise. My question was
what, in
these circumstances, is the implication of Nabokov's specifying that it is
Friday. It seems intuitively more in tune with what Dmitri Nabokov calls the
"poetry of pity", but the question is why. Friday has multiple resonances, but I
wondered if just one of them might be the loss of Shabbat.

As for Carolyn's point about what they actually ate, it is true that the
narrator doesn't explicitly say they ate fish, but couldn't the "pale victuals"
edible without teeth have been mushy boiled fish, or even fish soup, and mashed
potato, for example?

Anthony Stadlen

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