NABOKV-L post 0021516, Sat, 9 Apr 2011 11:37:47 +0200

Re: [NABOKOV-L] [HELP} English text for Didier-Machu on Humbert
Humbert and Byron

Herewith the link to Brian Boyd's article tracking down those mythological

My note, which memorious Jansy mentions, appeared in the Fall issue of 1994
and not 1993, a correction I owe to Brian.

My initial response to Brian's:

-----Original Message-----
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum on behalf of A. Bouazza
Sent: Wed 2/04/2008 9:36 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Boyd on Lolita, science, pattern

Dear List,

Among the new insights this article offers, I was very pleased to see Brian
Boyd pursuing and capturing what I had merely groped at in my very first
note to The Nabokovian entitled "Lord Byron's Pack" (1993) regarding Jean
Farlow's dogs, Cavall and Melampus, in the early scene at Hourglass Lake in
LOLITA. Their thematic import which I had intuited and was unable to
intimate is now clear and traced throughout the whole novel.

A. Bouazza.


From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jansy
Sent: zaterdag 9 april 2011 2:16
Subject: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] [HELP} English text for Didier-Machu on
Humbert Humbert and Byron

JM Alain Didider Machu: "In the small community of Ramsdale, there's more
than one detail that indicates the myth of the Byronian hero. Byron's two
dogs, Cavall and Melampus make their appearance... although they belong to
the mediocre Jean Farlow".
Various other links between Humbert Humbert and the development of the
Romantic movement (as Nabokov outlined in his notes in EO), linking him from
King Arthur's Quest towards to Lord Byron, Wordsworth, Poe are outlined, in
a fascinating article by Didider-Machu. Unfortunately I could only gain
access to it in French and difficult to quote in English.

Cf. Prof. Didier Machu, Université de Pau : “Un héros romantique : Humbert
Humbert” ; ... 'Bad, mad, and dangerous to know” : la formule lapidaire en
laquelle Byron fut caractérisé par Caroline Lamb, ... [ fr 1-day symposium 16
janvier 2010. organizer A-M Paquet-Deyris, Université de paris Ouest

I remembered an old note in "The Nabokovian" mentioning both dogs and their
Greek source, but could not find it to quote here ( if A.Bouazza would be so
kind to help me here?). I also checked in Brian Boyd, « Lolita: What We Know
and What We Don’t », paru dans Cycnos, Volume 24 n°1, mis en ligne le 20
mars 2008, URL :* but the
link with Byron is not mentioned.
Is there a copy of Prof. Didier Machu's article on "Humbert as a Romantic
Hero" available in English? My investigatory powers are very limited and any
help would be welcome.

*Brian Boyd : Lolita: What We Know and What We Don’t.
I. Introduction: "I think there are many, many details in Lolita that need
to be better annotated and that will lead to richer interpretations.
Although much remains to be done, in terms of annotation and interpretation,
I will focus on just half a page, and on two words we should have looked at
more closely: Cavall and Melampus."
V. Annotation and Global Interpretation: Cavall and Melampus
"What I really wanted to get to, though, in the passage at the end of the
Hourglass Lake chapter, what I wanted to spend most of my time on if there
hadn’t been so much else to notice, is the names of Jean Farlow’s two dogs,
Cavall and Melampus.Cavall, as the note in Appel does not tell us, but as
the notes in Zimmer’s German edition and from there the note in the Russian
Symposium edition do tell us, was King Arthur’s dog. Melampus again yields
nothing in Appel, and the German and the Russian editions unhelpfully
identify Melampus as a Greek prophet who could understand the language
animals. This gets us nowhere. In fact Cavall is indeed not only Arthur’s
favorite hound (as in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King),but the first of his
hounds to turn the stag, in a hunting episode in The Mabinogion, and
Melampus is the name of the first hound of Actaeon, in Ovid’s telling of the
story of Diana and Actaeon in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, III....The precision of
these allusions startles: two hounds from very different literary traditions
that are the first to chase or turn a stag. Like the other ironies around
the word “Waterproof,” the precision itself makes us want to annotate more,
and to expect more. And there is more, and it will connect with central
elements of Lolita.Actaeon, remember, is the hunter who spies Diana, the
virgin goddess of hunting, naked. Diana, enraged, turns him into a stag, and
his hounds pursue him, Melampus leading, and tear him to pieces. He still
feels as a man, but he can express himself only as a deer, so his own hounds
and his fellow hunters cannot respond to his strangled voice pleading for
them to stop tearing him apart.I hope you can see where this is leading: the
Enchanted Hunters motif that runs through the nove...There is much, much
more we need to learn about Lolita. Cavall as King Arthur’s dog points again
to the Arthurian pattern that seems to have for some reason attached itself
to the Lolita theme from the first. Remember that in the afterword to Lolita
Nabokov recalls that the protagonist of The Enchanter was called Arthur (no
trace of this name survives in the text). The Enchanted Hunters Hotel is in
Briceland, named after Broceliande, the forest where Merlin lived in the
Arthurian tales. After escaping from rehearsals for the play The Enchanted
Hunters, Lolita directs Humbert to another town where another Quilty play is
being staged with the authors as guests. The town is Wace, the name of the
first writer to recount the Arthurian legends in French. The play being
staged there is co-written by Clare Quilty and Vivian Darkbloom. Vivian
Darkbloom, as we know, is a woman and an anagram of “Vladimir Nabokov,” but
Vivian is also the woman who in Arthurian legend and in Tennyson’s retelling
is able to usurp Merlin’s magic and entrap him within his own spell. After
Wace, Lolita’s next rendezvous with Quilty is at Elphinstone, which surely
evokes the elfin stone out of which Arthur at last draws the sword Excalibur
when no one else can, and which proves to be the place where Lolita is at
last pulled out from Humbert’s clutches on Independence Day....There is
much, much more we need to learn about Lolita...We need to get annotating,
we need to get interpreting. We still don’t know Lolita."
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