Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001321, Tue, 17 Sep 1996 19:46:47 -0700

Re: Cakewalk (fwd)
From: Amy_Hendrick@BAYLOR.EDU

Yet another (though I think less applicable) definition of the
cakewalk is a children's carnival game in which players walk around a
circle divided into numbered spaces while music is played; when it stops,
a number is drawn, and the one standing on the space has won a cake. This
seems to me perhaps the tamed version of the original southern black
cakewalks, corrupted by being mixed with hopscotch and musical chairs.
I do think the original contest, with its connotations of perhaps lewd
strutting, is an apt way to describe underwear floating in the breeze and more
apt than catwalk because of the parti-colored associations we have with "cake"
(the underwear, we are told, is pink and blue).
As for how VN would pick up such a term, I wonder how he became so
familiar with a good quarter, probably, of the material in any of his
novels: the habits of young adolescent girls, the contents of the mind of
a bourgeois American housewife...the comparison is almost especially
Nabokovian for seeming, on the surface, unlikely.

Christine Cavitt