Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027219, Fri, 11 Nov 2016 22:03:34 +0000

RES: [NABOKV-L] [SIGHTING] Times Literary Suplement
August/October 2016
Former posting by Matt Roth:
Below, Jansy quotes from White's article thus: Even the index to Pale Fire is funny, and camp. We are told of a cordoned-off section of the royal picture gallery that “contains the statues of Igor’s 400 favourite catamites”. In the entry for Kinbote himself we discover inconsequential mentions of “his boyhood in Cedarn and the little angler, a honey-skinned lad, naked except for a pair of torn dungarees, one trouser leg rolled up . . . but then school started or the weather changed”. No matter that the little angler has never been mentioned until now."/ White is incorrect, not only in his odd insertion of "boyhood" (instead of logcabin) but also in his assertion that the angler has not been mentioned. In CK's note to lines 609-614 we find: "Cedarn is again a ghost town, and there are no summer fools or spies to stare at me, and my little blue-jeaned fisherman no longer stands on his stone in the stream, and perhaps it is better so" (235).

Jansy Mello:
Nice of you to take up White's incorrect quote here and add another observation, related to one more reference to the young angler. You motivated me to do a fresh google search about fishing - since there's always something new in the www being added to previous informations.

Charles Kinbote's recognition of Shade's invention of the "iridule" appears to be clouded by envy since he absorbs the poet's rich imagery into a Zemblan routine object ("muderperlwelk") and pulls the subject towards aquatic themes and fishing decoys. Charles Kinbote on Shade's Line 109: iridule: An iridescent cloudlet, Zemblan muderperlwelk. The term "iridule" is, I believe, Shade’s own invention. Above it, in the Fair Copy (card 9, July 4) he has written in pencil "peacock-herl." The peacock-herl is the body of a certain sort of artificial fly also called "alder." So the owner of this motor court, an ardent fisherman, tells me. (See also the "strange nacreous gleams" in line 634.)

There is a fisherman's hook linking "peacock-herl" and the "alder" (not necessarily "an artificial fly" only), as described in various texts mentioned by search-machines. However, it doesn't seem to be an actual synonym (as in: "also called"). As in the past I was intrigued by this approximation because I linked "herl" to "erlking" and to "alderking." There is a slight reference to V. Nabokov and Pale Fire below.


HERLA Herla King is a legendary leader of the mythical Germanic Wild Hunt and the name from which the French term, Herlequin may have been derived. Herla often has been identified as Woden and in the writings of the twelfth century writer Walter Map, Herla is portrayed as a legendary king of the ancient Britons who became the leader of the Wild Hunt after a visit to the Otherworld, only to return some three hundred years later, after the lands had been settled by the Anglo-Saxons.//
King Herla is a modernisation of the Old English form Herla cyning, a figure that usually is said to be Woden in his guise as leader of the Germanic Wild Hunt and thus the name is thought to be related to the French Harlequin, the leader of the Wild Hunt in Old French tradition. The same figure in Germanic paganism was described first by Tacitusin terms of the Harii who fought at night taking the appearance of an army of ghosts. The later Germanic tribe of the Heruli are also related to Herla.
Also, King Herla possibly is related to the German Erlkönig (best known from Goethe's ballad Der Erlkönig).[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herla

ERLKING (from Elf-king or Herla-king; German: Erlkönig) is a name from Danish and German folklore for the figure of a spirit or "king of the fairies". While early stories feature the Erlking's daughter as a malevolent figure, Goethe's poem "Der Erlkönig" and those following it have the Erlking himself prey on small children. The origin of the name Herla would be erilaz ("earl", Old Saxon erl), also found in the name of the Heruli (so that German erl-könig would literally correspond to earl-king)
In German, the name was re-interpreted and associated with Erle, the name of the alder-tree (suggesting a spirit haunting the forest). This form is now primarily known due to the 1782 ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (and Schubert's musical adaptation), "Der Erlkönig". In this context, the term is also sometimes rendered in English as Erl-king. // Charles Kinbote, a character in Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 novel, Pale Fire, alludes to "alderkings". One allusion is in his commentary to line 275 of fellow character John Shade's eponymous poem. In the case of this commentary, the word invokes homosexual ancestors of the last king of Zembla, Kinbote's ostensible homeland. The novel contains at least one other reference by Kinbote to alderkings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erlking

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