Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005555, Wed, 18 Oct 2000 12:06:33 -0700

Ludger Tolksdorf responds to Grillo/Obito query
lines) ------------------

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) [...]."

!. You are quite right about the "unter-/ober art" being taxonomic
categories. VN so identifies them in his "Darkbloom Notes."
2. You may be on to something re the Grillo = "cricket" but I'm not sure
what. The "cricket/caprice" pairing seems promising. Could "cricket" be a
nickname? It was, e.g., applied to the young Pushkin.
3. Your linkage of the ADA II-8 passage and the ADA I-4 paragraph is
excellent. Given the "frottage" element, there can be no doubt. But what is
the meaning of the very intentional parallel? Boyd's Notes for I-4 in THE
NABOKOVIAN (#34, p. 42) comments on the "real flowers imitating fake" as one
of the novel's motif (ROSE) and cites several of its echoes. He does not, so
far as I can see say anything that illuminates the Grillo/Obieto pairing.
And if the Grillo=cricket link is sound what does this implyi.e., Obieto =
?, i.e. grillo : caprice :: obieto : ?.??

ORIGINAL QUERY from Don Johnson

At 11:43 16.10.00 -0700, you wrote:
> ADA's menage-a-trois scene is written in the style of several Renassance
>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 II-8?
>"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 the
>sort of shop where the jeweler's fingertips have a tender way of enhancing
>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 attributed
>to Grillo or Obieto, caprice or purpose, ober- or unterart, is found by the
>ferreting artist."
>(ADA II-8)