-------- Original Message --------
Subject: gingerbread, insonmia etc
Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2012 15:26:35 -0700
From: Mike Marcus <mmkcm@COMCAST.NET>
CC: Mike Marcus <mmkcm@COMCAST.NET>

Mike M writes:

When I posted about Pale Fire's "worms, ginger and zhiletka blades" last week I forgot to mention that in Ada, gingerbread itself is mentioned, with direct reference to Shakespeare (p. 73), in a passage about insomnia:
"Night of course always remained an ordeal .... -- for genius is not all gingerbread even for Billionaire Bill with his pointed beardlet and stylized bald dome, or crusty Proust who liked to decapitate rats when he did not feel like sleeping, or THIS brilliant or obscure V. V. (depending on the eyesight of readers, also poor people despite our jibes and their jobs); .."

I can't claim to understand all of this, since the Billionaire segment has no connection with sleep, unless it alludes perhaps to the To be or not to be speech in Hamlet, "to die, to sleep -- / No more -- and by a sleep to say we end / The heartache ...... To sleep, perchance to dream ...... For in that sleep of death what dreams may come...". Perhaps in this context gingerbread means hard cash.

There are a few additional points of interest. Nabokov was quite happy to name Proust, but not to name Shakespeare directly, even though the allusion wasn't terribly opaque. The word THIS (italicized in the text) compares Van Veen with another V.V.; early quartos of Shakespeare had the W of his name like this
http://www.britaininprint.net/image_library/eul_lear_1619_quarto_large.html. Two barely separated Vs. Maybe that is what is contingent on the eyesight of readers. The final part: "also poor people despite our jibes and their jobs" perhaps suggests poor Yorick, the late clown, to whose skull Hamlet says "Where be your gibes now?"

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