NABOKV-L post 0021940, Sun, 14 Aug 2011 02:48:25 -0300

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[NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Figures of speech
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I was reading "Little Red Riding Hood" to one of my grandkids today:"When you are out in the woods, look straight ahead like a good little girl and don't stray from the path." However, inspite of these maternal warnings, the little girl will be led astray by the wolf, because "she had no idea what a wicked beast he was.")*

The moralistic tone of the story may be lost because the illustrations usually bring out a slit-eyed black wolf soon to be killed by a hunter. Nevertheless the ambiguity is preserved, as in Alexey Sklyarenko's note:"Several characters in Ada (Baron d'Onsky, Demon Veen) seem to be horses.."

The animal theme nagged at me again when, more recently, Didier Machu referred to "Laughter in the Dark" where "Margot twice calls Albinus doggy... [when a childhood friend of hers sadly concludes...she's going to the dogs... (200), the only question is: are there other dogs and is Rex a dog too?a vicious one?]
What would this figure of speech be called? A bestialization? Or a fable, as in Matt Roth's conjectures about John Shade's versipels and werewolves?

Nabokov's fondness for personifications (angry doors, shrugging sofas, wilful flames, aso) engenders verbal curlicues which are not to be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, when Demon implies a horse, Shade a werewolf and Rex, a dog, a special kind of metamorphosis seems to be taking place. Nabokov is no Aesop nor an Apuleius although his style seems to invite chimeric images that develop into a subplot - which would then become an independent, almost surreal, story. inside the story. Are there any specific articles to be found that unravel the literary consequence of such hidden surrealistic strands?


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* The Brothers Grimm, illustrations by Daniel Egnéus, Harper Collins publishers, USA.

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