Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005544, Mon, 16 Oct 2000 20:14:53 -0700

Fw: QUERY: Grillo & Obieto
EDITOR's NOTE. See below .
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ludger Tolksdorf" <uzsazk@nikocity.de>

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I have just a few hasty impressions (including nothing whatsoever on
Obieto) to offer:

However attractive the idea might seem, the meaning of German "ober- or
unterart" has nothing to do with art (German: "Kunst"), but with species
(and subspecies). I would therefore suggest that "Grillo" could, because of
the German involved in the art/species-pun, to the German word "Grille"
which means:
1) cricket [compare Italian: "grillo"?]
2) [dated:] silly notion/idea.
Could such a silly notion be intended here ("caprice or purpose")?

And another notion: could "the anonymous picture" refer to the object
"unremembered now, eighty years later" much earlier in the novel (ADA I- 4
, 2nd paragraph)?
"He satisfied himself that those flowers were artificial and thought it
puzzling that such imitations always pander so exclusively to the eye
instead of also copying the damp fat feel of live petal and leaf. When he
called next day for the object (unremembered now, eighty years later) that
he wanted repaired or duplicated, it was not ready or had not been
obtained. In passing, he touched a half-opened rose and was cheated of the
sterile texture his fingertips had expected when cool life kissed them with
pouting lips. [...] On another occasion (for a certain part of the thing -
a frame, perhaps - took an infinite time to heal or else the entire article
proved to be unobtainable after all) [...]."

EDITOR's Response: You are quite right that the "ober-/unter- art" are
taxonomic terms. VN identifies them as such in his "Vivian Darkbloom Notes"
without, however, going into the other mysteries of the paragraph. You may
be on to something with the Grillo = "cricket" business but I'm not sure
just what. Linking the frottage of the passage to schoolboy Van's rubbing
the rose petals in the shop is excellent in that it accounts for the
mysterious shop. Again I'm not sure just what it means here or how the
other things fit in but we're making progress. Other thoughts?

At 11:43 16.10.00 -0700, you wrote:
> > ADA's menage-a-trois scene is written in the style of several
> >painters -- most of whom are identified by the author. But WHO are Grillo
> >and Obieto? And that "ferreting artist"? And where does that shop
> >appear from? ANy ideas? Anagrams?
> >More generally, has anyone found possible prototypes for the scene in
> >
> >"That about summed it up (for the magical gewgaw liquefied all at once,
> >Lucette, snatching up her nightdress, escaped to her room). It was only
> >sort of shop where the jeweler's fingertips have a tender way of
> >the preciousness of a trinket by something akin to a rubbing of hindwings
> >the part of a settled lycaenid or to the frottage of a conjurer's thumb
> >dissolving a coin; but just in such a shop the anonymous picture
> >to Grillo or Obieto, caprice or purpose, ober- or unterart, is found by
> >ferreting artist."
> >(ADA II-8)