Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008897, Tue, 11 Nov 2003 17:47:24 -0800

Fw: Nabokov & double dactyls
EDNOTE. ANy thoughts on this anybody? I would point out that Scandinavian mythology is an important motif in PALE FIRE. Priscilla Meyer has written a book on PF with special attention to Icelandic myths and other other bits of Scando-lore.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 1:13 PM
Subject: Re: Nabokov & double dactyls


Although I´m way out from my own field of work, I keep trying to follow the List and VN. I have a special puzzle in Ada which I think could now be broached upon. If you think it has any bearing to or means anything of interest please forward it to the list. Otherwise, delete it...

I´ve been enjoying J.L.Borges classes in English Literature in Buenos Aires where he tries to teach the misteries of a "secret chamber" in English, their "the subterranean gold that mythical serpents keep". This is how Borges refers to the antique gold found in the poetry of the anglo-saxons before he concludes with: "man sings before he speaks" ....
Borges observed that the Germans didn´t use rhymes or isossylabic verses and had to resort to "kennnings" to demarcate their sentences.
While reading Borges and also "Ada" I began to entertain the idea that we might discover a use of metaphors in VN that would be similar to the scandinavian Kenningar!.
An example is already present in the alliterative epic poem " Beowulf" where the title stands as a metaphor for " the wolf of the bees" which, in turn, points to "bear".

Having in mind that German and Scandinavian people had to enter a special state of mind to fight a war ( berserk ) since their leaders wore a bearskin, VN´s reference to "bears" and furs ( F/ Urs ? ) gains a special meaning for me, but which I cannot follow since I know no Russian.

Here are some examples
Ada, 1969 Penguin Edition:

page 304: Let´s have dinner at Ursus next weekend.
page 322: " Van took them Saaturday night to 'Ursus' the best Franco-Estonian restaurant in Manhattan Major"

pag.288: " I am ill at these numbers, but e´en rhymery is easier ' than confuting the past in mute prose' (...)
A black bear with bright russet locks ( the sun had reached its first parlor window ) (...)
"deep, dark coat, side-thinking ( he liked furs): sea bear ( kotik)? No, desman ( vihuhol).

page 307/308 " a deep brown, hoar-glossed coat of sea-otter fur, the famous kamchatstkiy bobr of ancient Estotian traders, also known as lutromarina on the Lyaska coast: 'my natural fur, ' as Marina used to say pleasantly of her own cape, inherited from a Zemski grandam, when, at the dispersal of a winter ball, some lady wearing vison or coypu or a lowly manteau de castor ( beaver, nemetskiy bobr) would comment with a rapturous moan on the bobrovaya shuba (...)

" Neither sibling ever could reconstruct ( and all this, including the sea-otter, must not be regarded as a narrator´s evasion - we have done, in our time, much more difficult things) what they said, how they kissed..."

Before this:
page 227: " one must not berne you"

pag.277/79 & 297 variations on Likrot, Rotikl, Krolik, Viktor, Krestik. If the "sea bear" is kotik, would those anagrams point to it and not only to victor, crest, Krolig..? How?

Thank you,