Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005494, Sat, 30 Sep 2000 17:23:20 -0700

John Ruskin (fwd)
From: Kiran Krishna <kiran@Physics.usyd.edu.au>

I found these extracts in yesterday's The Australian from one of John
Ruskin's letters(Review/Books - A passionate man revealed) :

"Yesterday, I came on a poor little child lying flat on the pavement in
Bologna, sleeping like a corpse, possibly from too little food. I pulled
up immediately - not in pity, but in delight at the folds of its poor
little ragged chemise over its thin bosom - and gave the mother money -
not in charity, but to keep the flies off it while I made a sketch..."

"I used to think Botticelli's little Venus the nicest thing to see in the
word, but when I saw her again yesterday I only thought that to see a real
pitty girl without any clothes but roses would have been ever so much

Cf., Part 1, Chapter 10 (AnL. Pg 39):

'And, as if I were the fairy tale nurse of some little princess (lost,
kidnaped, discovered in gypsy rags through which her nakedness smiled at
the king and his hounds), I recognised the tiny dark-brown mole on her
side. With awe and delight (the king crying for joy, the trumpets blaring,
the nurse drunk), I saw again her lovely indrawn abdomen where my
southbound mouth had briefly paused; and those puerile hips on which I
had kissed the crenulated imprint left by the band of her shorts - that
last mad immortal day behind the "Roches Roses"'

and Part 2, Ch. 28 (AnL Pg 270)

'Curious: although actually her looks had faded, I definitely realized, so
hopelessly late in the day, how much she looked - had always looked - like
Bottecelli's russet Venus - the same soft nose, the same blurred beauty.'

An interesting coincidence.