NABOKV-L post 0018347, Mon, 25 May 2009 18:04:53 -0300

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[NABOKOV-L] Castor, lightining... a Query
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C.Kunin, off-List, asked about Castor and Kinbote: "How could you forget "the big beaver"?
JM: Perfect reminder. Castors in PF, also in ADA, abound*. The mortal twin?!

In relation to the ghostly "pale flambeau" I had been researching a different track, starting from an information about "globular light", the "fire of St.Elm" ( associated to Castor and Pollux) and will-o'-the wisp ( "igni fatuus" or "foolish fire", found in swamps), to reach Hazel's experience in the haunted barn: "10:25. A roundlet of pale light, the size of a small doily; flitted across the dark walls, the boarded windows, and the floor; changed its place; lingered here and there, dancing up and down; seemed to wait in teasing play for evadable pounce. Gone.".

Next I got confused by a side-issue: sometime after 1950 Hentzner had the barn destroyed and only a tuft of grass could be examined by Shade and Kinbote, approximately nine years later.

When did Hazel spend the night with mama and papa in the unburnt-barn?
Would Hazel's experience with "lights" ( preceded by HH's mother's death by lightning and followed by abolished electricity in ADA and its veeny swamps) be among the meanings associated to Pale Fire?

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* ADA: a lowly manteau de castor (beaver, nemetskiy bobr)... the bobrovaya shuba.
** Shakespeare's "The Tempest" ( also described in HM's "Moby Dick"), following an internet commentator: "There is a meteor known to sailors, and called by the several names of the fire of Saint Helen, Saint Elm, Saint Herm, Saint Clare, Saint Peter, and Saint Nicholas. "When- ever it appeared as a single flame it was supposed by the ancients to be Helena, the sister of Castor and Pollux, and in this state to bring ill luck, from the calamities which this lady is known to
have caused in the Trojan war. When it came double it was called Castor and Pollux, and accounted a good omen. It has been described as a little blaze of fire, sometimes appearing by night on the tops of soldiers' lances, or at sea on masts and sail-yards, whirling and leaping in a moment from one place to another. Some have said, but erroneously, that it never appears but after a tempest. It is also supposed to lead people to suicide by drowning. Shakespeare seems to have consulted Stephen Batman's Golden Booke oj the leaden Goddes, who, speaking of Castor and Pollux, says "they were figured like two lampes or cresset lightes, one on the toppe of a maste, the other on the stemme or foreshippe." He adds, that if the light first appears in the stem or foreship and ascends upwards, it is good luck ; if either lights begin at the top- mast, bowsprit, or foreship, and descend towards the sea, it is a sign of tempest. In taking therefore the latter position, Ariel had fulfilled the commands of Prospero to raise a storm. Douce."



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