NABOKV-L post 0018393, Sat, 20 Jun 2009 00:22:20 -0300

Re: QUERY: Iridule
Jerry Friedman replies to Jansy [If rain there was, for the needed refraction of the light creating an iridescence, it must be falling high up in the strata and never reach the earth.] This is called virga, but I have to be careful about saying that here in New Mexico (where virga is common), because the word is on the verge, Van, of an obscene Spanish word.

JF's second reply [Iridules, according to Shade, are a rare phenomenon. I don't think I ever saw one, I wonder if they exist except for Shade. Has anyone ever found an iridule?] Nabokov, apparently. Brian Boyd ... doesn't tell us whether Nabokov said at the time that the "iridule" was a reflection of the rainbow... I don't think Shade's description can be correct, because I don't believe a cloud can reflect an image, especially of something distant and no brighter than its surroundings... An iridescent cloud is one thing, a parhelion is another, and a mother-of-pearl cloud is yet another. I still suspect that Nabokov saw a parhelion and a rainbow at the same time and thought, or let Shade think, that the former was a reflection of the latter. In that case Kinbote, of all people, would be right.
I have no idea how the alder fits in. Something to do with alderflies, aquatic insects of the family Sialidae? But in pictures on the Web, they don't seem to be iridescent.

Panayoti Kelaidis writes:I and my family have observed iridules on several occasions in Colorado... I am not sure they are a reflection of a rainbow at all, but in fact a distant, high altitude rainbow that occurs when light hits a cloud at just the right angle at a certain time of day...

JM: I gather, from JF's quote from Boyd, that VN saw various special iridescences and named them "iridules" - and then let John Shade apply the neologism. Isn't it curious, though, that Shade would have employed the term incorrectly, by extending it to a cloud that reflects an image (as JF said: "he let Shade think..."), whereas VN let Kinbote get it right?

Legend describes a buried treasure close to the rainbow and a gender change for those who "pass under" the rainbow.
Alder carries us to the "Erlkönig" (Alderking): "Muderperlwelk" contains "erl", as does "peacock-herl" and the play with "pearl". This is why I thought Kinbote might be misinforming us about Shade's neologism.
Nevertheless, if it is impossible to have a cloud reflect a distant rainbow (as Shade defined the opal-oval cloud and distant valleys), wouldn't VN here have made an intrusion to mock the reader with Shade's "mirage"?

Another word-play (pearl-herl-erl-alder; opal-oval) might be "range" (Shade: "mountain range"/ "adult range" in the connection made by Kinbote)
Thanks to P.Kelaidis for the clarification on "high altitude rainbow", perhaps in association to JF's "virga".
Jerry, wonderful links to parhelion, iridescent, and mother of pearl, clouds with their exciting images. It seems that Nabokov mentioned all the three effects in PF!
Now what did Kinbote mean by: "The short (166 lines) Canto One, with all those amusing birds and parhelia"?

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