NABOKV-L post 0016559, Mon, 23 Jun 2008 10:19:39 -0700

Subject
Re: bars: a correction
Date
Body
I was not suggesting any type of research, I was just afraid I might have missed your definition. According to Brian Boyd's online gloss, which you've no doubt read, he claims that its a twist, a coinage of Nabokov's as you say, deriving from the drink "Bloody Mary", a mixture of vodka and tomato juice, which I presume refers to the mixture of the dueling men's bloods.

Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark05@MAIL.RU> wrote: As Victor Fet pointed out to me (and as I had vaguely suspected myself), bars in Lermontov's poem "Mtsyri" is not a snow leopard (Uncia uncia, not found in Caucasus) but a leopard (Panthera pardus that was once found there). Thanks to Victor for his correction! Curiously that, in English, bars is the plural of "bar."

To return to 'gory Mary': If I didn't knew that this phrase was coined by Nabokov, I would have looked for it not in Joyce (as Joseph Aisenberg suggests), but in Mayne Reid (the American writer of Irish descent who, in The Headless Horseman, describes a duel in a saloon). I would also think of Joseph Conrad (the English writer of Polish descent), but I confess I didn't read him.

To return to the Arzni water: Mandelstam calls it kolyuchaya, sukhaya / i samaya pravdivaya voda ("the prickly, dry / and most truthful water," whatever that meant) in another surviving excerpt of his "Destroyed Verses."
Another interesting word that has the same consonants as Arzni is zurna, the Georgian musical instrument, a kind of bagpipes, mentioned in Lermontov's "Demon" (VI): Zvuchit zurna, i l'iutsya viny ("A zurna plays, and wines are poured").

Alexey Sklyarenko


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