On 1/12/06 17:25, "Penny McCarthy" <penmc@BTCONNECT.COM> wrote:

Charles, But a bodkin is a Danish stiletto. Hamlet’s ‘bare bodkin’ – a dagger held by a Danish prince. Penny.

Penny/Charles: hard to determine exacly what range of implements WS and/or his audience would have had in mind. The idea that our ‘quietus’ (death**) can be achieved with a stiletto or dagger is surely a tad too obvious (that’s what daggers are for!), compared with the frightening notion that a noble life can be ended with a mere (bare for alliteration!) domestic needle or hairpin? We are back (again) to the problem of semantic spread and the dangers of dogma.

** Irony: Hamlet’s dad hardly enjoyed a quiet life after death!

Jansy wrote:

Someone in the know might express something like: One must read Nabokov both sincronically and diacronically, like a person listening to myths recited by Homeric followers.  And more...read him as poet and scientist, geographer and historian, like someone ennamoured with Vermeer and Picasso. Like a teacher in Physics....

I prefer to read & relish VN’s novels as the great, uniquely anti-didactic novels they are. Full stop! I suppose the analogy with Homer’s bards has some weight, BUT prends garde a toi. Homer’s audiences KNEW the characters & endings and BELIEVED the stories; the Gods and Goddesses, mortals and semis were REAL not mythic. This was HISTORY in the original sense of ENTERTAINMENT. VN’s novels also entertain (does this expose me as pre-modern old-fashioned? Even catsarses [JJ’s catharsis] can be diverting) after many re-readings — so, like Homer’s original listeners, we are familiar with the plot-twists yet delight in the re-telling — and in a modern way the characters become as real as our neighbours. For 27 UK sterling pounds, I recently downloaded the audio-Lollita from Apple’s iTunes (a real golden trashery — I’ve found many of my own early vinyl, now digitised, performances [under my nom-de-folk, Stan Kelly]) . LO is now instantly accessible on my iPod (next to my heart-shirt-pocket) with J Irons playing the monster. Unlike the movies, DN, this Lolita is UNabridged, UNbowdlerised. And I hope the VN estate benefits from this downloading technology where PIRACY prevails beyond any reasonable control. ASCAP have not yet forwarded any rewards for my own iTunes material!

Reading VN the entomologist, physicist, theologian, logician, historian, autobiographer, self-commentator, literary-critic, translator, teasing-interviewee, or  mathematician* is, as they say, rather OTHER. Needless to say, the sublime style, wit and mischief  shine through, defining the eponymous, undivided monistic ‘Nabokovian.’

3529471145760275132301897342055866171392 (I am not sure if I have got this right; anyway the root was 212)”

WELL NOW:  a quick check (log [212^17] ~= 17 x 2.3 ~= 39) indicates that VN either remembered the plausible 40-digit number and its plausible 17th root OR the whole sequence is a Nabokovian trick. Stay tooned as we fire up Mathematica!

Jansy also wrote:
*It is soooo amazing, there is no precise word in English for "Sehnsucht" or "Saudades" . Later I'll find a comment on the latter by Nabokov, while lecturing on Cervantes.

I respond, pulling out the polished pulpit:

WHAT’s a WORD? Harder still: What’s a PRECISE WORD?  Even harder: What’s a precise ENGLISH word? “The English have no precise word for a semi-spherical domed abode built from snow-blocks!” Of course we do! We BORROWED ‘igloo’ from the Inuktitut noun ‘iglu’ meaning ‘house.’ And we’ll NEVER GIVE IT BACK! One might as well say that the Germans had no precise WORD for ‘pining’ untill they COMBINED two older roots (sehen + suchen). And so it goes. Building and borrowing. Different languages build and invent words in different ways. When does a PHRASE become a WORD? (Recall the polysynthetic languages discussed here way back such as Cherokee and Inuktitut where a ‘word’ can run into a ‘sentence?’) Who defines all those IDIOMS? Who defines ‘precision?’

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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