Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002593, Mon, 1 Dec 1997 13:28:14 -0800

Barnes, Nabokov, & a Whippet (fwd)
From: Juan Martinez <pigbodine@hotmail.com>

Someone from this list had been kind enough to refer me to Julian
Barnes's _Flaubert's Parrot_ a few months back for a Nabokov reference
(I am compiling a list of Nabokovian winks in contemporary novels for my
web site---perfectly useless, I know, but fun nonetheless). Though the
forum discussed Barnes's allegation that Nabokov might have gotten the
pronunciation of Lolita wrong, there is another claim made:

P. 63, _Flaubert's Parrot_: "Madame Bovary has a dog, given to her by a
game-keeper whose chest infection has been cured by her husband. It is
_une petite levrette d'Italie_: a small Italian greyhound bitch.
Nabokov, who is exceedingly peremptory with all translators of Flaubert,
renders this as a whippet. Whether he is zoologically correct or not,
he certainly loses the sex of the animal, which seems to me important."

My French is too poor to determine who is closer to the truth here. The
gender of the dog does seem to matter---in that Barnes is correct, I
think. But is VN zoologically correct?

If this is old hat I apologize... I might have missed a few posts now
and then.



P.S. There is another fascinating tid-bit on a Flaubertian anecdote
concerning a "Humbert" and the great pyramids. Julian Barnes wonders if
Nabokov read Flaubert's letters before writing _Lolita_. But that's
another matter.