NABOKV-L post 0023991, Mon, 22 Apr 2013 18:38:16 -0700

Carmen and the Barman ditty
I was intrigued by the reference below to a barmen/Carmen ditty, so googled up
said ditty. Very odd - had never heard of it. Will try itunes for a melody to go
along with the following lyrics:

and the sun was on her lips, and her lips were apparently still forming the
words of the Carmen-barmen ditty that no longer reached my consciousness...There
she stood and blinked, cheeks aflame, hair awry, her eyes passing over me as
lightly as they did over the furniture... Blessed be the Lord, she had noticed


From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Mon, April 22, 2013 6:25:44 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Personification, animism, cartoon-imagery?

Barrie Karp:I think you have proven to be delightfully precise in this thread,
thank you, Jansy. I look forward to more fun of your analyses of rhetorical
nuances in VN(you wrote: (every sample demands a different rethorical nook).)

Jansy Mello: Thank you for you encouraging response. I'm sure there will be
collaborators to provide corrections or enlightenment while I stumble on.

VN's agility is thrilling and many finds come to me as a belated surprise (like
the one in which the outside world leaps towards Dreyer like a dog, and he pats
it affectionately - the outside world has been turned into Tom, the
dog that readers shall only meet in a future chapter !

Personalization takes place when bodily actions and emotions are transposed
onto inanimate objects by literary devices, or (perhaps?) in the description of
how one living body-part influences or reflects another passive part of the
body ( the tongue essaying three steps down the palate during speech in
"Lolita" or "The Enchanter's" "fidgety thoughts" and "tiptoeing words"(E p.24
and 43).

However, when we reach descriptions in which there is a passage from a
character's dancing and locomotive acts into thoughts and metaphors,* as it
happens with Van's maniambulations in ADA, the mind-body-word focus changes, as
it also occurs when the character's fantasy system acts
over the objective functions of his autonomous brain and its sexual response
for, in this case, it's the illusion of solipsism that which seems
to be paramount in Nabokov (there's a kind of "mental practice" that is
expected by some of the characters to have no effect on the external world, nor
does it deserve a special verbal treatment) ** But what about the
terrified "little Gulliver"(who has, as one author expanded into a book, "a
mind of his own"), a "toy with the familiar but never tedious trick" (E p.72)
although this time his "owner's" imagination has been "left hanging on barbed
wire." (E55)? And... what's in a ."suspicious car" ( E79)?

A subjectively experienced body, acting over - or being acted by, the same body
now transformed into a thing, is something altogether different from the
instances in which a character applies to "the toilet door such a slam that
the crystalware in the dining room react with fright ...amid the panic-stricken
chairs" (E 64), the "sponge shedding its tears...while decorum and morality,
aware neither of the goings-on nor of the address, would remain from visiting"
(E.73), or "the blank face of his wristwatch" (E75).and "the forest that kept
approaching in undulating hops from hillside to hillside until it slied down an
incline and tripped over the road, where it was counted and stored away" (E 79)

See, Barry, I get easily lost...(but recovering special VN sentences and
sharing them with others is still quite delectable ...)

* S.E Sweeney (2012) elaborates over how "Nabokov’s novels often dwell on this
contrast between mentally practicing and physically executing an
action."Cf. "Backwards, Upwards, Contrariwise, Downside Up:- Thinking in
Different Directions in Nabokov"

** "Lolita" (with a ballooning skirt!) and excerpts from the davenport scene:

"My heart beat like a drum as she sat down, cool skirt ballooning, subsiding,
on the sofa next to me, and played with her glossy fruit...and her bare knees
rubbed and knocked impatiently against each other..Then, with perfect
simplicity, the impudent child extended her legs across my lap...By this time I
was in a state of excitement bordering on insanity; but I also had the cunning
of the insane. Sitting there, on the sofa, I managed to attune, by a series of
stealthy movements, my masked lust to her guileless limbs. It was no easy
matter to divert the little maiden's attention while I performed the obscure
adjustments necessary for the success of the trick..and all the while keeping a
maniac's inner eye on my distant golden goal, I cautiously increased the magic
friction that was doing away, in an illusional, if not factual, sense, with the
physically irremovable, but psychologically very friable texture of the material
divide (pajamas and robe) between the weight of two sunburnt legs, resting
athwart my lap, and the hidden tumor of an unspeakable passion...every movement
she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the
secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty — between my
gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent
cotton frock...I felt I could slow down in order to prolong the glow. Lolita
had been safely solipsized. The implied sun pulsated in the supplied poplars;
we were fantastically and divinely alone; I watched her, rosy, gold-dusted,
beyond the veil of my controlled delight, unaware of it, alien to it, and the
sun was on her lips, and her lips were apparently still forming the words of
the Carmen-barmen ditty that no longer reached my consciousness...There she
stood and blinked, cheeks aflame, hair awry, her eyes passing over me as
lightly as they did over the furniture... Blessed be the Lord, she had noticed
When Humbert Humbert's fantasies provoke a sexual reaction that brings into
play the erotic link between a mental practice and a private physical "action"
(actually, reaction), it remains very doubtful that his victim
will perceive nothing unusual in her circumstances ("she has noticed nothing"
is his conclusion,l inspite of his description of Lolita's innocent physical
response).HH'ss silent mental exertions reach out onto the world to become
actions even before he decides to write his memoirs using metaphors,
personalizations and objectifications - which now pass to another realm, that
is, to literature In "The Enchanter" the protagonist initially denies
any intention to touch his little russet, save in imagination. Like HH,
he approaches the shadows of her body as she moves, to caress her in thought,
only. However, he senses that something monstrous is actually taking place and
that he is corrupting her (at least, during his early confessional mood).
Besides, this psychic force is powerful enough to drive an indignant lady
away from the train cabin she is sharing with him while he is day-dreaming
about his nymphet, although there's nothing palpable to justify the
lady's discomfiture and shame. It seems that even on a strictly mental level
(or should we include rolling eyes and panting?) a character's literary fantasy
life has an effect on the world ( that's obvious.

Google Search the archive Contact the Editors Visit "Nabokov Online Journal"
Visit Zembla View Nabokv-L Policies Manage subscription options Visit AdaOnline
View NSJ Ada Annotations Temporary L-Soft Search the archive

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: