NABOKV-L post 0007005, Sun, 3 Nov 2002 11:06:23 -0800

Subject
Fw: Friedman on wordplay
Date
Body
EDNOTE. Mary Bellino is, inter alia, the Associate Editor of NABOKOV
STUDIES, an annual journal devoted to the best in international Nabokov
scholarship. Subscription information at
http://www.libraries.psu.edu/iasweb/nabokov/forians.htm . Article
submissions and review copies go to Prof. Zoran Kuzmanovich at
NabokovStudies@Davidson.edu.

----- Original Message -----

> ----------------- Message requiring your approval (29
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> From Mary Bellino (iambe@rcn.com):
>
> Jerry Friedman writes that he finds much of Nabokov's
> wordplay unsatisfying. It occurred to me recently that one
> problem with Nabokov's jokes of the macaronic type is that
> they are too easy for the polyglot and too difficult for the
> monoglot. If you are familiar with Greek and German you
> recognize instantly that "Melanie Weiss" means "Black
> White", but if you don't know those languages, you will
> never get the joke no matter how many times you reread the
> text. (That is perhaps not the best example, but it's the
> first one that came to mind.) Someone with a sort of
> internal 6-language dictionary of Russian, English, French,
> and German, plus Greek and Latin roots, would probably
> recover 95 percent of VN's multilingual wordplays, many
> without even consciously thinking about it, but the monoglot
> reader would have a completely different reading experience
> and, unless aided by commentaries, would have no means of
> detecting even the existence of these hidden gems.
>
> I am not complaining about this situation, which no doubt
> Nabokov intended; as someone who falls about halfway between
> the monoglot and hexaglot readers described above, I enjoy
> the jokes I can figure out and depend on more knowledgeable
> critics to explain the rest. But I'm wondering if Jerry
> Friedman had in mind this or some other aspect of Nabokov's
> wordplay--what is it exactly that leaves him cold?
>
> Mary
>