Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001351, Sun, 13 Oct 1996 19:15:35 -0700

Re: Double Dactyls & VN (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. My thanks to the Pascals for the message below and
especially for unearthing the "Proust/groused" Double Dactyl that has been
buried in the back of my mind for 30 years.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sun, 13 Oct 1996 18:04:31
-0700 (PDT) From: Naomi Pascal <nbpasc@u.washington.edu>

While acknowledging the magnanimous "Editor's Response" to my
perhaps too-testy communication about DDs, I cannot resist
forwarding a message sent to a classics email list just today. In
answer to a request for help in teaching Latin meters by using
English phrases that approximated them, the following suggestion
was made:

"One form which might be fun is double dactyls--Anthony Hecht has
done several poems in this (traditionally humorous) form.
Longfellow's 'Hiawatha' for hexameters in English--and young
students would probably find it entertaining."

The reference to the relentlessly trochaic "Hiawatha" is, of
course, a mistake for "Evangeline," which is indeed written in
dactylic hexameters. But this does at least indicate that the DD
is not yet DeaD.

On this same dreary Sunday, my husband has located what we think
must be the DD Don Johnson had in mind, which does indeed include
a mispronunciation of Proust (and avoids VN's last name
altogether). It was written by George Starbuck and appears--along
with many other DDs--in _Pith and Vinegar: An Anthology of Short
Humorous Poetry_ edited by William Cole and published by Simon
and Schuster in 1969. Here it is:


Agatha Christie to
E. Phillips Oppenheim,
"Who is this Hemingway?
Who is this Proust?

Who is this Vladimir
Whatchamacallum, this
Rabble?" she groused.

Naomi B. Pascal
Associate Director and Editor-in-Chief
University of Washington Press