Eric Hyman: My guess is that it might be irony, that is, VN is hinting that green-eyed cats is a literary cliché. Another possibility that the perception of green eyes is a subjective reflex of the ambient lighting—certainly a familiar theme in Nabokov. I’ve been around cats all my life and have yet to see a green-eyed one (Siamese cats really do, however, have blue eyes).
Jansy: Irony hadn’t occurred to me as a means to indicate a literary cliché – but you must be right! Perhaps if I’d heard VN say the words I might have felt it from the start. Thanks, Eric.
(One of my black cats, “Mimi”, has green eyes, “Maracujá” has them honey-colored and “Pipoca”, a ragdoll, is blue-eyed)
JM: In Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lectures on Literature”, on the chapter on Dickens (Bowers,p.120), he notes that Krook “comes slowly up, with his green-eyed cat following at his heels” he adds: “All cats have green eyes – but notice how green these eyes are owing to the lighted candle slowly ascending the stairs.” […] In RLSK we encounter a vanishing cat with “celadon” eyes ( a bluish/green/grey colored porcelain), so it seems that VN admitted variations in feline eye-coloring. Why then did VN assure his students that “all cats have green eyes”?