Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000294, Sun, 10 Jul 1994 15:37:11 -0700

LOLITA geography
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Dieter E. Zimmer" <100126.2576@compuserve.com>

This really is great. Thanks to the Forum, thanks to everybody who
answered my queries. As it worked so well, I proceed to add two and a half
more, all concerning *Lolita*.

(1) I am still not quite at ease with those caves. On p155, H.H. and Lolita
visit a cave "where three southeastern states have a family reunion". This
clearly must be Mammoth Cave, stretching from Indiana through Kentucky to
Tennessee. Then on p157, they are in the West, presumably in Texas, New
Mexico or Arizona, and visit "the longest cave in the world", a cave having
a Crystal Chamber. Geographically, Carlsbad Caverns would fit well. And
though there is no Crystal Chamber at Carlsbad, there is a Crystal Spring
Dome. However, Carlsbad Caverns certainly is not the longest cave in the
world, while Mammoth Cave claims to be just that. But in Mammoth Cave they
can hardly have inspected "the world's largest stalagmite", as it has
barely any stalags, as Charles Nicol rightly remarked (it has a Crystal
Lake, though). So H.H. seems to be confusing those two caves, transposing
the big stalagmite from Carlsbad to Kentucky and the length from Kentucky
to Carlsbad. That's exactly what I proposed in my annotations in 1989, and
I could stick to it. Yet there remains a chance that this explanation is
mistaken, that H.H. is not confusing anything at all but speaking of an
entirely different cave, or of two different ones. There are so many of

(2) On p258, H.H. picks up Rita -- "between Toylestown and Blake, at a
darkishly burning bar under the sign of the Tigermoth". The allusion to
Blake is clear, and the Tiger Moth is an Arctid like *Arctia caja* L. But
the way VN's imagery worked, I suspect there was (or still is) an actual
(neon) bar sign representing or resembling a Tiger Moth, perhaps some brand
of beer or whisky. What would it be? (I am thinking of something along the
line of that "gas station, under the sign of Pegasus" [= Mobil] on p211 or
the other one under "the sign of the Conche" [= Shell] on p212.)

(3) Would anybody be aware of a really convincing explanation for Quilty's
license plate numbers on p251, "Q32888" and "CU 88322" ("KU 6969" and "KUKU
9933" in the Russian version)? (I am afraid everybody will sigh "Not that
one again!")

-- Dieter E.Zimmer, Hamburg, Germany --