NABOKV-L post 0019261, Thu, 28 Jan 2010 18:55:02 -0200

Re: Fwd: Re:PF and Parody--response to JF]
Jim Twiggs: ..."I agree with almost everything Sam Gwynn says in his post ...about Dickey, Shade, and the word "rustic." But I do wonder whether VN's Harvard experience (and Dupee's life at Columbia) might seem qualitatively different from a life spent in small-town schools like Cornell." // "In connection with the subject of VN and the occult, Robert M. Adams [on PF] in."AfterJoyce: Studies in Fiction after Ulysses (Oxford, 1977)," writes that "the theme [of intertwining narratives] strikes a curious resonance upon a set of historical circumstances which, though Nabokov denies having known of them, are too curious not to be recorded" [...]"the ungainly devotion and wretched grief of the Shade family are a center of human feeling amid the obsessions, reflections, and self-absorbed word-games of Pale Fire." Afterjoyce]

Gary Lipon: There was an article published last October on CNN's website, about an after death experience of a mother of two in suburban Boston. It has some relevance as background to Shade's own after death experience, or Mrs. Z's: "It was very peaceful and light and beautiful. And I remember like, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, you want to hug them, and I remember trying to reach out to my ex-husband, and he would not take my hand. And then they floated away." ..."there were pictures of my son and my daughter and my granddaughter, and every second, their pictures flashed in my mind, and then I came back."

JM: Rusticity is closer to a state of mind than to any geographical location, no? Perhaps "states of mind" (Shade's "upper states") are also the main factors which contribute to the experience of supernatural events during spiritualistic séances or in after death experiences.
In the example brought up by Gary Lipon who is to distinguish this lady's visions from mnemonic visitations or the drowning person's "life in a flash" sceneries? I cannot but agree with Robert M. Adams that Shade's explicit "mystical experiences" constitute an "ungainly devotion," one which, as I see it, hides Nabokov's own mature avowals which are only slightly hinted at throughout the novel.

While researching about rabbits, cunicular krolik's death cum larvae* and alpine doctors in "Ada," I found something curious which I'd like to bring up in relation to halluciations and mystic symbols. Following Vivian Darkbloom's notes (to page 13, on Dr.Lapiner) we learn that:
"for some obscure but not unattractive reason, most of the physicians in the book turn out to bear names connected with rabbits. The French 'lapin' in Lapiner is matched by the Russian 'Krolik', the name of Ada's beloved lepidopterist (p.13, et passim) and the Russian 'zayats' (hare) sounds like 'Seitz' (the German gynecologist on page 181); there is a Latin 'cuniculus' in 'Nikulin' ('grandson of the great rodentiologist Kunikulinov', p.341), and a Greek 'lagos' in 'Lagosse' (the doctor who attends Van in his old age). Note also Coniglietto, the Italian cancer-of-the-blood specialist, p.298."

In ADA I (ch 3) we read that "He [Van] invariably wrote in French calling her petite maman ...He called her usually mummy, or mama, accenting the last syllable in English, the first, in Russian; somebody had said that triplets and heraldic dracunculi often occurred in trilingual families; but there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever now (except, perhaps, in hateful long-dead Marina's hell-dwelling mind) that Van was her, her, Aqua's, beloved son."

Dracunculi indicates "draculs" and heraldic dragons, which are associated to Demon Veen. However, it also carries a slight (very slight, I know!) indication of the word for rabbits and (Dr) Lapin ( i.e, "cunculi" and "cuniculus"), in connection to Aqua's miscarriages and to her first reference to "triplets" in "trilingual families." This led me to the assumption that there may be a trilingual circular punning involved, somehow related to rabbits and fertility rites.

Wikipedia referred me to the theme of the "three hares" which is found "in sacred sites from the Middle and Far East to the churches of south west England...The symbol features three hares chasing each other in a circle. Each of the ears is shared by two animals so that only three ears are shown. It has a number of mystical associations and is often associated with fertility and the lunar cycle...The earliest occurrences appear to be in cave temples in China, which have been dated to the Sui dynasty (6th to 7th centuries). The Three Hares also feature in 'roof bosses' (carved wooden fixtures) in the ceilings in almost 30 medieval churches in Devon, England (particularly Dartmoor), as well as churches in France and Germany, in 13th century Mongol metal work, and on a copper coin, found in Iran, dated to 1281..."

I cannot say that I strongly believe that this association makes any sense but, perhaps, it may come in useful to someone else.

* "derives from Latin cuniculus, rabbit (itself taken from Greek kyniklos), which is also the source of the old English name for the animal, coney or cony. The Latin word could also mean a burrow, an underground passage, or a military mine. Variations on it appear in systematic scientific names - an American owl, to take one example, is formally known as Speotyto cunicularia because it lives in burrows." ( a google word-source).

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