NABOKV-L post 0018700, Thu, 22 Oct 2009 22:05:49 -0200

Re: Lastochka
Alexey Sklyarenko: "One night between sunset and river..." ("The Gift," Chapter Two) As to Lucette's ancestry, Van tells us (and I don't see why we should disbelieve him) that she is Dan's own daughter (1.1).

J. Mello: Thank you for transcribing the poem and referring it to "The Gift."
There's no reason to disbelieve Van about Lucette's being Dan's daughter but, after you mentioned Mary Trumbell, I began to wonder if Dan was really a Veen. The family chronicle yields a kind of information that is not visible in the traditional family tree which opens the novel.

Lolita's nymphancy: Nabokov and Joyce

Trying to locate in "Lolita" the play with the word "paranymph,"( I didn't), I found numerous and familiar variations for "nymph":
nymphet, nymphic, nymphean, nymphage, nymphetry, nympholept and nympholepsy. There was one particular entry which caught my attention: "And I thought to myself how those fast little articles forget everything, everything, while we, old lovers, treasure every inch of their nymphancy." ( Lolita, part Two, chapter 18, p.208,LoA).
I'd just read in James Joyce's "Anna Lívia Pluribelle" (1928) the following sentence: "She thought she's sankh neathe the ground with nymphant shame when he gave her the tigris eye!, " in its context of infantile shame, rivers, nymphs and "the tigris eye" (a semiprecious stone).
Wondering if Nabokov had made any reference to James Joyce, in this context, I tried to locate words, such as "tigris," in Nabokov's novel. I found one: "I remember as a child in Europe gloating over a map of North America... to my imagination as a gigantic Switzerland or even Tibet, all mountain, glorious diamond peak upon peak, giant conifers, le montagnard émigré in his bear skin glory, and Felix tigris goldsmithi and Red Indians under the catalpas. That it all boiled down to a measly suburban lawn and a smoking garbage incinerator, was appalling. (209-210). Not a river, but a feline (Felix tigris) - but why the additional "goldsmithi"?
The internet led me to an article by M.Oencea (Inventing and naming America: Place and Place Names in Vladimir Nabokov;, where the accreted "goldsmithi" was interpreted in connection to Oliver Goldsmith's "The Deserted Village" (1770): "where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey," a perfectly satisfactory match that eliminates further ponderings about gems and goldsmiths which could indicate Joyce. And yet there is a curious item in the structure of "Lolita". Although the word "nymphet" and its variations occur all over the novel, the last time it appears is exactly when Nabokov employs the expression "nymphant" (with its sound of "infant, infancy"). After this there will be no other references to "nymph." Nabokov never ceases to surprise me.

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