On 1/12/07 23:09, "NABOKV-L" <NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU> wrote:

> Who was that wench? Was it Maude herself. Probably not. Too old for  
> one thing as a wench is a young one.

Carolyn: without daring to identify Shade’s wench (I’m still busy working on that elusive Dark Shady Lady!), I would point out the danger of deducing her age from the noun used. True, wench is currently [Dictionary definition 1] applied to girls (buxom ones, ideally) but there’s been considerable semantic drift (ebb’n’flow) over the years, including hints of promiscuity and prostitution regardless of age [Dictionary definitions 2, 3, 4 ... esp. the naughty implications of “Here we go a-wenching!” where the target age-group is flexible.] In fact, in Shade’s day & context, and even in our own today, the choice of wench seems a deliberate nudge-wink poetic archaism. with the added advantage of rhyming with quench. We are back to reminding ourselves that Shade (via VN) is writing poetry. And, indeed, poetry dripping with mock-archaic fancies, not least the Popish [sic?] prosody.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

> The answer is in another sly sexual metaphor that Nabokov has Shade  
> indulge in as he trims his cuticles (I don't know how, but scarfskin  
> probably is a reference to foreskin) and imagines the five fingers of  
> his hand are characters from his past. They are in fact his past  
> sexual partners (apparently manually mostly) there are two females in  
> the ring and pinky fingers - -  the pinky is the wench. I believe  
> there is some reference to a Canadian girl, a servant, in Canto One.  
> What relationship she has to Sybil, if any, I haven't figured out.
> Carolyn Kunin
> p.s. Why "dead wench" Jansy?
> ***
> Dear Andrew Brown,
> Consider, please, the possibility that Shade and Kinbote are the same  
> person!
> Carolyn Kunin

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