Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020701, Thu, 9 Sep 2010 12:14:11 -0300

Re: Scry and mysteries
Stan [to Jansy on "crystalomancy"]: POETS have a lot to answer for, SCRYING, sorry, SCREWING up our Noble Tongue. Here's HOW (very approximately): the innocent verb DESCRIBE* (via Descrive) gets slightly mangled into DESCRY. Then the meaning is stretched to include PERCEIVE, and wider still, to SEE FROM AFAR. Then the poor word gets shortened to SCRY simply to fit some prosaic, prosodic [sic] SYLLABLE COUNT. Along come the lexicographers who endow SCRY with spurious nonsense about FORTUNE TELLING and Crystal Balls. ...A fine old circular mess! Lexicographers guessing what Poets mean, then Poets (the lesser ones!) believing what the Dictionaries tell them. I'm not surprised you were puzzled.... Reading SCRY in a poem, some might guess the original meaning (descry) from context, especially if the SPELLING were helpful, namely 'SCRY (a common way of indicating poetic curtation, as in LOV'D etc) Hope that helps. There is a comically long list of -MANCY words, evidence of HomSap's GULLIBILITY.
* Read GSL's quote from TLS again: "Describe the horoscope ..." Accident or deliberate?

JM: I also hope it helps. As for World Golf, here is my first inversion,with a "dark and light" (chiaro-scuro) mood suggested by Matt, using words Nabokov inserted in "ADA" ( inspired by light-bearing Lucinda's final 'nox")
A non-anglophone friend, in his article about homosexuality, mentioned the name "Molly" ( applied in the XVIIth century to prostitues and passive effeminate males), which until now I'd only referred to Joyce's Molly Bloom. Nabokov uses it in Ada, indicating Lucette through daisies almost drowning in water (molly-blob, I think it was), but I hesitate to find any allusion to this new meaning for the common nickname.
Another Nabokovian coinage is the unsoft "mollitude", often applied to Villa Venus: it must be equally unrelated. However, non-etymological associations are common in our mind's underworld, particularly in the case of polyglots such as Nabokov.

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