NABOKV-L post 0017613, Sat, 24 Jan 2009 10:26:32 -0200

Re: [NABOKOV-L] St.Anthony's fire and John Ray
Re: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] St.Anthony's fire and John Ray
Stan K-B toJM [A PS, concerning the mention of John Ray in relation to Ergotism]: why not link to the popular crooner Johnnie Ray (1927-90), surely well known to VN and, especially, Lo? He was known as the NABOB of SOB. Add OK to NABOB and stir gently! Spooky beyond coincidence.
Frances Assa: Moreover, a John Ray Society has been around since the 19c (see below). Notice it's lodged in the Natural History Museum in London. I wonder if VN joined?
S.Blackwell,Ed: I remember seeing a bust of John Ray at the Trinity College library. Ray's likely significance for VN has been mentioned in various studies; bibliographic contributions would be welcome at this point (the first of course was Appel's annotations or, maybe, Proffer's Keys to Lolita?

JM:This is great, Stan! The Nabob of Sob coincidence, well stirred. Coincidences bob up and down when we let ideas float (and the internet brings up surprising data none could otherwise reach in the olden days).

The surprise for me rises not from Prof. John Ray's story and achievements in general, but his link to St.Anthony's fire and "ergotism" [ergot: F: lit., a rooster's spur; OF argos, argoz, argot spur(s) ].
See, this item came up while I was researching into RLSK's "Cock Robin", Silberman's "Adam's apple as an arrased eaves-dropper", medieval minstrels ( Le Puy d'Arras and Adam de la Halle's "Robin et Marion") and the French city of Arras' "Our Lady of the Ardents".
It's almost impossible that VN could have been aware of, and applied to his fiction, such a load of quaint interlinked information.

Ergotoxins stimulate lisergic hallucinatory effects (data from wiki) - but they are equally useful in relation to abortions (this is a link to Ada or Ardor's Marina/Aqua's lost babies and doctors, plus references to poisons and belladonna drugs - also in the same novel).
Ergotism and the witches of Salem, and Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", is another possible branching with old John Ray nomenclature ( Nabob of Sob or "Lolita's" prefacer would, indeed, be JR. to that one)
Signs and Symbols, indeed.

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