NABOKV-L post 0019108, Sat, 16 Jan 2010 13:47:26 -0200

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Fw: [NABOKV-L] Powerful Kramler: Nabokov decoded
Sending this one again...

----- Original Message -----
From: jansymello
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2010 6:55 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Fw: [NABOKV-L] Powerful Kramler: Nabokov decoded ...

JM: Why not enjoy the 50 quotations ( or as many that we find the time to read), spurred on by VN, but without having to refer everything back to him again? James Twiggs addresses are a marvellous guide for verbal travels.

A.Bouazza's quote from Proust proves to be a real treat: [ "Readers of Proust will recall the preparation of asparagus in the first part of his "A la recherche du temps perdu", and, more significantly and relevantly, the following passage:..'what fascinated me would be the asparagus, tinged with ultramarine and rosy pink which ran from their heads...through a series of imperceptible changes to their white feet...a rainbow-loveliness that was not of this world. I felt that these celestial hues indicated the presence of exquisite creatures who had been pleased to assume vegetable form..."] because through it we get the feeling of late nineteenth and early-twentieth literature and this enhances our joy of reading Nabokov.
Bouazza's paragraph from Proust (which I'd long forgotten, unlike VN whose references teem with the excitement of reading such ecstatic "rainbow-phallic" fantasies) added a particular sirinal iridescence to Flora's aspirin/asparagus in TOoL...

In relation to BB's "Larvarium" (with an "a"), what struck me most was the initial naming of "larvae", following Carolus Linnaeus's original choice for the name in the Seventeenth Century.
As far as "new coinages" go, his classificatory poetry deserves the trophy:
"The word larva referring to the newly hatched form of insects before they undergo metamorphosis comes from the Latin word larva, meaning "evil spirit, demon, devil." To understand why this should be so, first we need to know that the Latin word also was used for a terrifying mask... Larva is therefore an appropriate term for that stage of an insect's life during which its final form is still hidden or masked, and New Latin 'larva' was thus applied in 1691 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who originated our system of classifying plants and animals. The word larva is first recorded in English in its scientific sense in 1768, although it had been used in its "spirit" sense in 1651 in a way that foreshadowed the usage by Linnaeus. " The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company."


B.Boyd: Sorry to be a party-pooper, but we know what Nabokov's preferred English dictionary was, so it seems pointless to decide that this or that word he has used is a coinage, when it's in Webster's Second.There, there are 5 different entries for "stang," and the first sense of the first entry is "A pole, rail, or beam." "Larvarium" it defines as "A box or cage for the rearing of insect larvae." As far as I know it is still possible to obtain old copies of Webster's Second International Unabridged at ridiculously low prices from Merriam-Webster.

James Twiggs: Go here for a list of 50 quotations in which the word "stang" appears, including several from Gulliver's Travels and other works that VN was sure to know:; ...but, as Stan suggests, to what purpose?. One of the most interesting uses is in the expression "riding the stang," which is explained here: and, in far more colorful language, here: But isn't it possible that VN (or Shade), faced with the difficult problem of finding a suitable one-syllable word at this point, simply made the best of a bad situation? As for Webster's Second, it is online and free at

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