Thank you, Barrie and Bedja.

I also personally asked these terms to the Nabokov biographer Andrea Pitzer and to
Rene Alladaye, the writer of the latest Pale Fire book. Mr. Alladaye also states that 
volant en arrière means "flying backwards". But curiously, the term also has the
meaning which was already given in the very same sentence: a heraldic insect. Please 
check the link given by Andrea Pitzer:

Would it be correct to say, then, that Nabokov only makes a repetition here: 
a heraldic butterfly is a winged insect; in other words, a  volant en arrière...



2013/10/1 bedja ttttr <>
volant en arrière is simply "flying backwards".
"Feuilles-d'alarme" is not a current French term at all, although it may have been in decades past. It literally means "alarm leaves". From the context it is possible to imagine what is meant.


Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 15:10:44 +0300
From: yigit.yavuz@GMAIL.COM

Subject: [NABOKV-L] french terms in pale fire

Dear colleagues,

My Turkish traslation of Pale Fire will soon be published by Iletisim Publishing House in Istanbul.

I need your help for two expressions in French: 
feuilles-d'alarme and volant en arrière.

"He claimed to have improved the glitter and rattle of the so-called feuilles-d'alarme used by grape growers and orchardmen to scare the birds."

"From far below mounted the clink and tinkle of distant masonry work, and a sudden train passed between gardens, and a heraldic butterfly volant en arrière, sable, a bend gules, traversed the stone parapet, and John Shade took a fresh card."

What explanations may be given as translator's notes?


Yiğit Yavuz

Yiğit Yavuz
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