Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005492, Wed, 27 Sep 2000 20:12:34 -0700

Fw: VN Bibliography: Luxemburg & Rakhimkulova (fwd)
From: D. Barton Johnson <chtodel@GTE.net>

> EDITOR's NOTE. NABOKV-L ran some information about the above book a few
> years ago. This essay by the authors provides an English summary of the
> book.
> ----------------------------------------------
> Alexander Luxemburg,
> Professor of Rostov State University
> Galina Rakhimkulova,
> Associate Professor of Rostov State University
> Magister Ludi: Word Play in Vladimir Nabokov's Prose in the Light of a
> Theory of Puns
> We have published a number of Russian articles by A.Luxemburg, devoted to
> different aspects of V.Nabokov's art. Today we are proud to offer you a
> breakthrough article in English, outlining the role of word play in
> Nabokov's prose, its functions, levels & techniques in the light of theory
> of puns. This article summarizes the results of A.Luxemburg &
> G.Rakhimkulova's research within the project "The Magician of Word Play:
> Vladimir Nabo-kov's Language and Style" funded by the Commit-tee for
> Research Support Scheme of the Central European Uni-versity. As a part of
> the project, they have published a book "Magister Ludi: Word Play in
> Vladimir Nabokov's Prose in the Light of a Theory of Puns" (Rostov-on-Don,
> 1996), where one can find full information about the subject.
> The aim of the present research consists in analyzing the
> tremendous resources of word-play in both English and Russi-an novels by
> unprecedented magician of verbal acrobatics Vladimir Nabokov and in
> providing on this basis a new compre-hensive theory of word-play that is
> compatible with the practi-ce of Modernist and Post-Modernist authors.
> Word-play that includes, according to dictionaries of literary
> terms, verbal fencing, repartee, play on words, puns and paradox-es, is
> habitually regarded as a way of exercising or exchanging verbal wit while
> standard definition of pun describes it as "the use of word in such a
> as to bring out different meanings or applications, or the use of words
> alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning, often with
> intent" ("New Web-ster's Dictionary of English Language", College
> Altho-ugh 20th century world literature's experience disproves the
> tra-ditional practice of treating word-play (or puns) as a method of
> creating a comic effect this view has nevertheless a tendency to prevail.
> The authors suggest a more complex approach to the prob-lem of word play
> intend to find out and describe its numerous functions and unusual
> properties as well as to give a systematic view on V. Nabokov's exercise
> its possibilities.
> The playing principle that had been discovered by Plato and
> developed by many later philosophers was theoretically enriched
> in "Homo ludens". It is evident that although this principle has always
> art's integral part, it has become especially important by the end of the
> 19th century. J.Ortega-y-Gasset stated in his "Dehumanisation of Art" the
> "magic gift" of the new art - its ability of ironic play on it's own
> properties that became more important than the study of man and society.
> singled out seven ele-ments of the "new style" the fourth of which
> in treating art as a kind of play and nothing more. Such approach to art's
> aims can be found in J. Joyce's "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake", in J. L.
> Borges' short stories and essays, in J.Cortazar's, G. Garcia Marquez', B.
> Vian's, S.Beckett's and U.Eco's fiction, as well as in numerous works of
> French "nouveau roman" writers and the American novelists of the "black
> humour" school. These works demonstrate not only their creators'
> to construct intricate structures for the sake of play, but also their
> intention to start a play with the potential reader who is to solve
> to find out the book's secrets, and who is perma-nently mystified and
> deceived.
> Such play's strategy has been accurately described and
> on by U.Eco in his Notes to "The Name of the Rose" and has been
> used by Vladimir Nabokov whose both Russian and English masterpieces have
> highly influenced most experimental schools in 20th century fiction.
> All Nabokovian texts are based on playing principles, and his
> attitude to this practice is very clearly expressed in the final passage
> "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight" where the nar-rator V, whose aim has
> been reconstrucion of this writer's life in art, states: "...I am
> Knight. I feel as if I were im-personating him on a lighted stage, with
> people he knew coming and going - the dim figures of the few friends he
> the scholar, and the poet, and the painter - smoothly and noiselessly
> their graceful tribute (...). They moved round Se-bastian -round me who am
> acting Sebastian - and the old conju-rer waits in the wings with his
> rabbit (...). And then the masquerade draws to a close. The bald little
> prompter shuts his book, as the light fades gently. The end, the end. They
> all go back to their everyday life (...), but the hero remains, for, try
> 1 may, I cannot get out of my part: Sebastian's mask clings to my face,
> likeness will not be washed off, I am Sebastian or Sebastian is I, or
> perhaps we both are someone whom neither one knows".
> This "someone" is naturally V.Nabokov himself, who is al-ways
> writing for an abnormally sensitive erudite reader. As Humbert states in
> "Lolita", "...I could visualize him as a blon-de-bearded scholar with rosy
> lips sucking la pomme de sa canne as he quaffs my manuscript..."
> Some Nabokovian novels are structured according to rules of
> certain games - such as chess ("The Real Life of Sebastian Knight", "The
> Defence"). The author uses an intricate play on the repeating patterns
> become formal signs of his absolute command of the text: sun-glasses in
> "Lolita", a recurring pud-dle in "Bend Sinister", the "squirrel theme" in
> "Pnin".
> The play with the reader is effected on two levels: the one of
> text and the one of the language. That is why it seems pos-sible to
> distiguish between play and game poetics (the system of fictional
> creating the specific atmosphere of play within the text) and play and
> stylistics (the language re-sources used for this purpose).
> Manipulations with words are a significant aspect of the
> Being a born punster, V.Nabokov has been constantly at-tracted to the
> possibilities of word-play.
> The analysis of hundreds of examp-les of word-play from
> novels permits the authors to improve the classifica-tion of pun-building
> techniques and add certain categories and variants of word play
> which have not yet been registered by previous researchers. 16 types of
> pun-building techniques have been singled out, some of them being
> traditional and some specific for play and game stylistics:
> 1. The play on similarly sounding words (paronomasia). V.
> does not only excel in the normative use of this oldest pun-building
> but also employs it for rende-ring subconscious associations in J. Joyce's
> manner (cf. "poor Willy is willy nilly a willow", or "Would 1 arrive in
> to find him alive... arrive... alive... arrive"; "The Real Life of
> Knight".)
> A specific modification of paronomasia maybe formally motivated
> the character's foreign accent and by his inadequate command of the
> of communication. "Pnin" abounds in such puns, and the protagonist's awful
> distortions of words supply them with diabollically ironic hidden
> such as "vicious and sawdust" (instead of "whisky and soda") or "Van-dal
> College" (instead of "Waindell"). Paronomasia may also be complicated by
> punning rhymes. Similarly sounding words are often artificially
> by the author in accordance with the existing word-building models, and
> Nobokovian texts abo-und in occasional neologisms of that kind.
> The play on similarly sounding words of the same root is used by
> V. Nabokov for accentuation of the antithesis. Nume-rous cases of play on
> full homonyms, homophones, homog-raphs and homoforms are complemented by
> ones of artifi-cially created homonymy. The borderline between
> created and occasional homonymy is sometimes rather vague.
> 2. Close to paronomastic are graphic (or paronomastlc-graphic)
> puns such as "soundless and boundless" ("That in Aleppo Once..."), where 8
> letters out of 9 coincide, or "Bal-dly she mentioned a flnn, a film"
> ("Laughter in the Dark").
> 3. Play on polysemy, or on the divergence of meanings in words
> the same root.
> 4. Antonymic puns are characterized in V. Nabokov's fiction by
> their inobtrusiveness and can be traced by a well-trained eye only.
> 5. The transformation of pharaseologisms is present in
> texts in 4 different forms:
> a) The double interpretation of the idiom, its use in an
> intentionally dubious context: "Alas, I had no more doubts, though the
> picture of Sebastian was atrocious - but then, too, I had got it
> second-hand". In this example from "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight" the
> idiom "second-hand" may also be understood literally;
> b) The idiom's transformations (sometimes combined with their
> literal interpretation);
> c) The repetition of a cliche's element in its direct meaning.
> ("To break Charlotte's will, I would have to break her heart. If I broke
> heart, her image of me would break too"; "Lolita");
> d) The contamination of phraseologisms: "Good night for mothing"
> ("Bend Sinister). The play is based on the con-tamination of "good for
> nothing" with a wish of "good night", but in the first expression the
> standard "nothing" is replaced by the author's occasional neologism
> "mot-hing". The author's word-play is additionally complica-ted by the
> that even the native speakers are bound to see a misprint here which is
> the case.
> 6. The occasional neologisms created for the punning purpo-ses
> a favourite means of word-play in a text created in accordance with the
> of play and game stylistics. In most cases they are formed by means of
> contamination; e.g., "optimistics" in "Sebastian Knight" is a combination
> "optimism" and "mystics". Such portmanteau words may be construc-ted out
> elements of different languages. A short slim girl's "tripping step" in
> "Lolita" becomes in its Russian version "tropotok" - the contamination of
> the French verb "trot-ter" and the Russian noun "topot" ("tramp")
> is very fond of using portmanteau words. Another example of such pun which
> was not present in the English "Lolita" but appeared in its Russian
> is "libidobeliberda" (inste-ad of "pseudoliberations of pseudolibidos")
> which marks the author's aversion to S. Freud and psychoanalysis. The most
> widespread category of such portmanteau words is for-med by proper names
> such as "Maurice Vermont" ("Lolita"), a punning contamination of three
> Symbolist poets - the Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck, the French Paul
> and the Russian Konstantin Balmont. Such puns reveal the author's
> principles and sympathies. The punning neologisms may be constructed
> contamination as well as the "sexophone note" (in "Sebastian Knight").
> 7. One of the most specific types of puns in V. Nabokov's
> prac-tice is word's decomposition and semantization of its both (or
> constituents. (Cf.: "One gentle writer, the aut-hor of a single famous
> rebuked Sebastian (April 4, 1928) for being 'Conradish' and suggested his
> leaving out the "con" and cultivating the 'radish' in future works..."
> (Se-bastian Knight".) Some cases of such decomposition are hardly
> discernable, as, for instantce, Sebastian Knight's pre-ference of books
> "left you puzzled and cross", that was not noticed by all Russian
> translators of the novel who igno-red the writer's fondness of his Russian
> neologism "krestoslovitsa" (crossword puzzle).
> 8. A new type of puns, the in-built puns, is widely used by V.
> Nabokov too. This is a sophisticated art of pun-building when a
> is hidden (or "dissolved") within a lar-ger one in a small section of
> a sentence or a word-combination, such as "smuglaya mgla"(dark haze;
> "Drugiye Berega"). The in-built pun can also be bilingual: "...sva-rennoye
> vkrutuyu yaytso opuskalos s ovalnym zvukom" ("Druglye Berega"). The word
> "yaytso" (egg) is hidden in its Latin form within the word "ovalnym"
> An analo-gous pun can be found in "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight":
> name was Olga Olegovna Orlova - an egg-like alliteration".
> 9. Metaphoric puns. Whereas in other Nabokovian texts this type
> puns is not very frequently found, it takes a large proportion in all the
> cases of word-play in "Lolita". A specific Nabokovi-an metaphor serves as
> core of this pun which may seem misleading but within a larger context its
> second, disguised meaning is revealed. It is sometimes in the context of
> whole novel only that this disguised meaning becomes noticible. Being a
> parody of the erotic literature and an attempt of creating an archetypal
> story of great love, "Lolita" abo-unds in metaphoric puns with erotic
> colouring. A con-text indeed! A key to the specific function of metaphoric
> puns can be found in Humbert's dolorous statement: "Oh, my Lo-lita, I have
> only words to play with", meaning that his sublimative word-play is the
> one left to him because no sexual play is more possible due to his
> death.
> 10. False etymology is used by V. Nabokov not in its traditional
> comic function, but in order to reveal the character's moti-ves of
> ("He confused solitude with altitude and the Latin for sun (...).
> was wrong in his solarium" ("Sebastian Knight"), or as a tactical means of
> intricate in-tellectual play with the reader: "Isumrudov ("isumrud" =
> 'emerald')... 'of the Umrads', an Eskimo tribe sometimes seen paddling
> umyaks (hide-lined boats) on the eme-rald waters of our Northern Shores"
> ("Pale Fire").
> 11. Anagrams are traditionally treated as figures, but in the
> context of Modernist and Post-Modernist fiction it seems possible to
> out anagrammatic puns. One of numero-us examples is the passage about
> "short-haired Miss Lester and fadedly feminine Miss Fabian" in "Lolita",
> characteri-zing their sexual (Lesbian) orientation. The name-character of
> "Ada" is a fan of a "game of anagrams", and she even manages to construct
> out of the word "insect" an anagram-matic sentence: "Dr. Entsic was scient
> in insects". V.Nabo-kov's name is concealed in many anagrammatic puns.
> rare cases of artificial anagrammatization can be found in Nabokovian
> 12. Paragrams (spoonerisms) are close to anagrams in the
> that they are based on manipulations with letters' arran-gement too. But
> while anagrams result in ciphering and must be decoded, paragrams do not
> obscure the meaning and the-ir playing effect is achieved by the anomalous
> arrangement of consonants and some additional changes in the word's
> ap-pearances. V. Nabokov follows the tradition of the British poetry of
> nonsense, espesially that of L.Carroll and E.Lear, but, unlike his
> predecessors, he uses spoonerisms mostly as a means of psychological
> characterization. "Bend Sinister" is the best source of Nabokovian
> spoonerisms. A special case of paragram (spoonerism) is the one of the
> misprint. A striking example of this device is Shade's fo-otnote in the
> "Pale Fire" about the notorious misprints in a Rus-sian paper (crown -
> crow - cow).
> 13. Chiasmus, "a balancing pattern in verse or prose, where the
> main elements are reversed", can also be treated as a sort of word-play.
> traditional definitions are not adequate because they acknowledge this
> phenomenon's formal aspect only, but disregard the lexical one. Both the
> syntactical and the lexical aspects of the chiasmus assure its play role
> within the text, ma-king it possible to single out chiastic puns, such as
> "The Pris-matic Bazel' ("s] (...) fun seemed to me obscure and its
> obscu-rities funny" ("The Real Life of Sebastian Knight"). It is evi-dent
> that V.Nabokov's chiastic puns allow a possibility of an inaccurate
> "reflection" of the first part of the statement within the second one due
> the use of the same word's other gram-matical forms and of other words
> the same root. The usual chiasmus is too simple for such refined punster
> V. Nabo-kov, and he prefers combining chiastic puns with polysemy and some
> other factors. Thus, he characterizes ironically Sebastian Knight's
> in such a way: "Poor Knight! He really had two periods, the first a dull
> writing broken English, the second -a broken man writing dull English".
> 14. The analysis of anagrams' and chiasmus' use for the purposes
> of play and game stylistics has testified to the fact that some figu-res
> speech may be regarded as pun's structural variants: The same may be said
> about zeugmatic puns, such as "...Humbert resting his hand and burning
> desire and dyspepsia" ("Lolita") The main function of such puns is
> predominantly ironic.
> 15. A new type of puns' formation may also be singled out -
> translation puns. They are characterized by an intentional-ly wrong
> translation into another language within the text. Their more detailed
> analysis is proposed below. Puns can also be borrowed from other literary
> sources for playing purposes. These "second-hand" puns may correspond to
> 14 models already described.
> Some untraditional functions of word-play have been revealed
> within the present research. Contrary to the tradition, according to which
> puns have been treated as a vehicle of achieving a comic effect, the
> insist on their ability to perform numerous other more im-portant
> in Modernist and Post-Modernist texts. Thus, 12 other functions have been
> singled out:
> 1. The structure-forming (or thematic) function is usually
> effec-ted by large puns' sequences traceable within the whole text of the
> novel. Its detailed analysis is given below.
> 2. The pun's allusive function is often combined by V.Nabokov
> the appraising one because allusive word-play gives the writer a chance to
> demonstrate his definitely negative atti-tude to certain figures of modem
> culture and trends in contemporaty literature, philosophy and science. A
> number of allusive-appraising anti-Freudian puns can be traced in
> Structure-forming (thematic) puns are also allusive. The same can be said
> about the "borrowed" puns. There exists a special category of allusive
> which may be called autoquotatation puns.
> 3. The ironic function, demonstrating the writer's sceptical
> at-titude towards the events described, may be combined with the allusive
> one as well as with some other functions.
> 4. Word-play's associative function is represented in
> fiction by some seemingly casual sequences of simi-larly sounding words
> get fixed in the narrator's con-sciousness and are essential for
> understanding the key fac-tors, determining his fate. This phenomenon can
> illustrated by two characteristic examples from the Russian version of
> "Despair" ("Ne nado, ne khochu, chukhonets, khochu, ne nado, ad", and
> "Palka - kakiye slova mozhno vyzhat iz pal-ki? Pal, lak, kal, lapa"), and
> several others from "Lolita".
> 5. Some puns' main function (though they may be formally
> as the predominantly ironic ones) may consist in generating the atmosphere
> of the absurd. The authors disprove the ideas of J.T. Lokrantz who in his
> book "The Underside of the Weave: Some Stylistic Devices Used by
> treats analogous puns as the ornamental ones. The abundance of such puns
> some Nabokovian novels is de-pendent on their mainly absurdist mood. This
> particularty valid for "Invitation for the Beheading" and "Bend Sinister".
> 6. The function of is one of the specific ones for such
> works which are based on the laws of play and game stylistics. It is very
> actively reve-aled in riddle puns. E.g., Herman, the narrator in "Despair"
> after hearing some sound, reacts by saying "chock" and pro-poses such a
> riddle to his dozing wife: "My first is that so-und, my second is an
> exclamation, my third will be prefixed to me when I am no more; and my
> is my ruin". The answer is the contamination of "choch-o(h)-late", i.e,
> "chocholate". But there is also a second, masked sense in this pun though
> the English version ren-ders it in a slightly muted form.
> A treasure of riddles can be found in Chapter 23, Part 2 of
> "Lolita" where Humbert's quest for Quilty is described. The analysis of
> episode is aimed at proving that the search for "the fiend's spoor" may be
> regarded as a kind of intellectual tournament between two erudite authors
> (or "knights" in the fairy-tale concealed layer of the text).
> 7. The Nabokovian puns can serve as a means of the charac-ters'
> appraisal (in some cases - as a means of his self-cha-racterization) E.g.,
> the negative evaluation of Shchyogolev in "The Gift" is achieved by his
> persistent use of vulgar puns which is particularly relevant within the
> context of Nabokov's indefatigable crusade against vulgarity ("pushlost").
> 8. There are cases in the author's practice when he himsef uses
> punning to uppraise his characters. Word-play's function is in such cases
> predominantly appraising and tendentio-us (or biased). Such are, e.g., the
> already mentioned anti-Freudian puns (which may be ironic and allusive as
> well).
> 9. The metaphoric puns are as a rule used as means of appraising
> the characters' psychic and emotional state. There are num-bers of such
> cases in "Lolita". The narrator being an erudite person, some of such puns
> are intentionally multilingual.
> 10. Another word-play's function consists in marking the
> concealed presense (or the concealed presence of a character). V.Nabokov
> uses sometimes the "anagrammatic camouflage", when introducing his alter
> incidental cha-racters: BlavdakVinomori ("King, Queen, Knave", Engl.
> ver-sion), Vivian Damor-Blok ("Lolita", Russian version), Vivian Darkbloom
> ("Lolita", Engl. version), Vivian Bloodmark ("Speak, Memory"), or Adam von
> Ubrikov ("Transparent Things"). The whole text of "Lolita" is run through
> the punning introductions of Quilty's theme. This function may be
> singled out in most Nabokovian masterpieces.
> 11. The ornamental function fits naturally to Nabokov'g
> formalistic inclinations. His intent to make the text more attractive by
> introducing puns is evident in some cases. Nabokov's sty-le is determined
> a certain extent by his "punning manner of thought". But it is impossible
> state in most of his puns crystally clear ornamentalism, and some other
> deeply concealed functions can be found in most of them.
> 12. The rhythm and sound instrumentation function of Nabokovian
> puns consists in supplying the text with specific so-und and rhythmic
> effects, e.g.: "...Snapshot of a missing girl, age fourteen, wearing brown
> shoes when last seen, rhymes" ("Lolita"). This function is especially
> relevant for such ca-ses when the writer playfully reconstructs an
> stream of consciousness as in "The Gift" or "Invitation to a Behea-ding".
> This function is close to the ornamental one, but it tends to annihilate
> borderline between prose and poetry. It is interesting to point out, that
> the traditional comic fun-ction of word-play is probably the rarest one in
> Magister Ludi Vivian Van Bock's practice.
> Structure-forming (thematic) puns may be considered a most
> specific trait of the Nabokovian play and game stylistics. Puns' sequences
> which are interlaced with the motives (recurrent themes) and allusi-ons
> systems form a pattern that can be fully comprehended only by a competent
> erudite reader. A treatment of structure-forming (thematic) puns'
> is complicated by the fact that they may be simultaneously considered as a
> type of pun formation and as a word-play's function.
> Although puns' sequences may be found even in the earliest
> Nabokovian texts, it is in his fiction of the American and the Swiss'
> periods, that his art of creating puns' sequences patterns have become
> especially refined and mature.
> To show how this device actually functions the authors have
> two Nabokovian novels for a detailed analysis: "The Real Life of Sebastian
> Knight" and "Lolita". The study of the first text is based on Ch.Nicoll's
> ideas expressed in "The Mir-rors of Sebastian Knight". The critic asserts
> that Nabokov's works have been written to be re-read, especially "The Real
> Life of Sebastian Knight" which, as it was usual for the writer's
> has been built as a mirrors' system. Knight's own novels are the keys to
> interpretation of this work. Combining in his text the analyses of all the
> main novels of his artistic protago-nist, V.Nabokov gets a formal
> opportunity to comment upon their structures: "Sebastian Knight had always
> liked juggling with themes, making them clash or blending them cunningly,
> making them express that hidden meaning, which could only be expressed in
> succession of waves as the music of a Chinese buoy can be made to sound
> by undulation. In "The Doub-tful Asphodel", his method has attained
> perfection. It is not the parts that matter, it is their combination". The
> "game comp-lex" of Sebastian Knight, the one of the author actually, is at
> work when he combines various puns' sequences within the novel's text. 7
> them have been singled out:
> 1) the chess sequence;
> 2) Sebastian Knight's favourite books list;
> 3) the "creative" sequence based on the opposition "art-heart";
> 4) the Shakespearean sequence;
> 5) Knight's works' sequence;
> 6) "Night-day, white-black, light-darkness" sequence (subtly combined with
> the chess one);
> 7) the Narcissus sequence;
> 9 structure-forming (thematic) puns' sequences have been sin-gled out in
> "Lolita":
> 1) the Haze sequence;
> 2) the Humbertian sequence;
> 3) the Quiltian sequence;
> 4) the Carmen sequence;
> 5) the Edgarian sequence (play upon the E.A. ??? theme);
> 6) the Sleeping Beauty sequence;
> 7) the Blue Beard sequence;
> 8) the Tristramian sequence;
> 9) Lolita's class list sequence.
> Although many details used in this analysis have already been
> commented upon by C.R. Proffer, A. Appel, J.Th. Lokrantz, A.Dolinin and
> other critics, this seems to be a first attempt of exami-ning the
> structure-forming (thematic) puns within this novel.
> Nabokov's bilingual and multilingual puns form a separate
> This problem was extremely acute for V. Nabokov who wrote his earlier
> in Russian and his later ones in English but produced later on the English
> versions of his Russian texts and some Russian versions of his English
> His use of multi-lingual puns was intentional, and it facilitated his
> transition from Russian to English and vice versa. The lexical elements of
> Nabo-kov's two main languages are sometimes combined compulsarily because
> otherwise he might not have been able to preserve the pun in the other
> language. The foreign elements within the pun may intensify its erudite
> specific characters Bilingual and multilingual puns become in some cases
> formal markers of Nabokovian texts' play structure. J Joyce' influence
> his multilingual punning technique is especially evident in a passage from
> "Lolita": "Seva ascendes, pulsata, brulans, kitzelans, dementissima.
> Elevator clatterans, pausa, clatterans, populus in corridoro. Hans nisis
> mors nibt adimet niemo! Juncea, puelulla, jo pensavo fondissime, nobserva
> nihil quidquam...", where the punning effect is achieved through the use
> 6 languages' lexical elements.
> The play with the reader becomes especially complicated when
> elements of artificially constructed non-existant langua-ges participate
> the pun-forming technique, as in "Bend Sinis-ter", "Pale Fire" or "Ada".
> There could be found some examples of "translation puns" which are
> charac-terized by the narrator's intentionally wrong and/or misleading
> translation of the foreign text. Some cases of punning are also singled
> where the word-play is based on elements of two foreign languages whereas
> the novel is written in the native one. (A pun in the "Russian" "Lolita"
> constructed out of English and French elements.)
> Here one should mention the problem of marking and masking puns.
> These two techniques form a complicated combination in Nabokov's works. He
> needs marking puns because otherwise they might remain unnoticed. On the
> other hand, he needs masking them too, so that the reader should be forced
> to overcome some obstacles to single them out.
> The simpliest method of marking a pun is to mention the fact of
> its presence: "Humbert Humbert sweating in the fierce white light, and
> howled at, and trodden upon by sweating policemen, is now ready to make a
> further statement' (Quel mot!)..." ("Lo-lita"). A more subtle method of
> marking consists in menti-oning some formal characretistic of the text
> helps in fin-ding its hidden punning meaning. Some themes and proper names
> may serve as formal markers, e.g., the name of S.Freud and the school of
> psychoanalysis. The author may also point out some allusion in order to
> the case of word-play.
> The main method of masking puns is the narrator's tactical
> stressing of certain word-combinations' unimportance or his certainty that
> something is silly or not relevant. But his method combines the
> characteristics of both masking and marking puns. The pun may also be
> by way of using another al-phabet, e.g. Cyrillic instead of Latin, and by
> untraditional arrangement of the text ("Yerun Dah" in "Bend Sinister").
> The word-play experiments of "Vivian Darkbloom", a "conceited
> conspirator and perfi-dious punster", which started as a "Breeze from
> Wonderland", re-sulted in his fabulous successes with the "magic art of
> word's vivi-section". Although one might suppose that in the world created
> with the help of "Douglas d'Artagnan's punning gift" the supreme
> is effected by "some elfish chance", the real aut-horities there are the
> "gods of semantics". It is reasonable to point out that no matter how much
> the Nabokovian world is dependent upon his art of improvisation,
> mathematically presise calculations have always been word-play's actual
> basis.
> The analysis of word-play's modifications in Nabokov's fic-tion
> can be concluded by a tentative attempt of giving pun's new definition.
> According to the authors' views, a pun is a term which unites various
> of playing manipulations with words (or word-combinations, or idioms)
> a sentence, a paragraph, or a larger section of the text, or within the
> whole text, the aim of which consists within the traditional stylistics in
> creating a comic, satirical or parodistic effect and within the play and
> game stylistics is characterized by a combination of functions whose
> element is their participation in restructuring the text as an autonomous
> logical system, based on play and game principles. Puns are formally
> characterized by the similarity in sound, word's clashing meanings, play
> si-milar spelling, polysemy, semantization of word's different parts,
> etymology, contamination and some other means. They are the most essential
> element of the play and game style.
> Some words about the authors of the article:
> Alexander Luxemburg is presently a full professor in the Department of
> Theory and His-tory of World Literature at Rostov State University. His
> interest in V.Nabokov's fic-tion is constant and infatigable and he has
> recently published the Russian reconstruction of the second (English)
> version of Nabokov's novel "Laughter in the Dark" in his translation
> accompanies by an Afterword containing comments on the differences
> the existing texts, a first attempt of supplying the Russian readership
> this intricate Nabokovian text (Rostov-on-Don: ME Kniga, 1994).
> Galina Rakhimkulova, associate professor in the Department of Mass Media
> Language at Rostov State University, has been interested in V.Nabokov's
> fiction for a long time. Her project "The Magician of Word Play: Vladimir
> Nabo-kov's Language and Style" has bean selected by the Commit-tee for
> Research Support Scheme of the Central European Uni-versity in Prague for
> 1994 grant.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> ? 22 [28] November 21, 1999 ?.