NABOKV-L post 0020709, Sat, 11 Sep 2010 10:30:58 +1200

Subject
Re: THOUGHTS: Parasites
Date
Body
I'm sure Victor is right, VN would have been familiar with hydatid, a very well-known disease.

Have people forgotten Jim Ramey's article on the botfly?

Ramey, James. “Parasitism and Pale Fire’s Camouflage: The King-Bot, the Crown Jewels and the Man in the Brown Macintosh.” Comparative Literature Studies, 42 (2004), 185-213.

Brian Boyd

On 11/09/2010, at 5:32 AM, Fet, Victor wrote:

>> while researching Hyde's name, VN came across this similar word
Very interesting!
Might I remind however that VN, apart from being zoologically educated from his early years, has been taking (reading I believe is the British word:)) ichthyology (fish science) at Cambridge, and tapeworms are a very big issue in fish (we get most from them). What I am saying is that any average zoology student or scholar (say, yours truly) would know the term “hydatid” anyway.
Tapeworms of course have nothing to do with botflies, both just being parasites.
There is another tempting connection, however, of the term “hydatid” word, purely medical and human-related: so-called “hydatidiform mole” (or hydatid mole, mola hydatidosa), a bizarre pregnancy form wherein a non-viable, fertilized egg implants in the uterus, and thereby converts normal pregnancy processes into pathological ones. The term, however, comes from the similar appearance of the cyst to a hydatid cyst [of tapeworms – VF]. A hydatidiform mole conception is sometimes referred to colloquially as an early (natural) "missed abortion."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydatidiform_mole.
We are talking about a non-existent, potential child, an embryo which develops instead into a bizarre growth, resembling a parasitic worm cysts (hydatids) but purely akin to a tumor, indeed sometimes becoming cancerous.
With VN’s keen interest in all areas of human reproduction, including borderline ones, he surely was aware of this concept as well. The word “mole” doubles as a spy, too!
This makes one think of many VN motifs from PF and Ada (Aqua’s pregnancy, Van/Ada identity), Lolita’s death, Double Monster story…
See attached (Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1955, 6(2):219-220), a bizarre 1955 story of 53-year old pregnant with mola hydatidosa. I wish VN saw it…Note that the author’s institution is Rip Van Winkle Clinic!
Victor Fet




From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Matthew Roth
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 8:50 AM
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU<mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
Subject: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHTS: Parasites

All the recent discussion of Botkin's relationship to Kinbote (and K's relationship to Shade), brought me back to Carolyn Kunin's discussion of Jekyll & Hyde. Carolyn pointed out the parasite theme in PF and related it to VN's lecture on Stevenson, where he whimsically relates Hyde's name to hydatid, "a tiny pouch within the body of man and other animals, a pouch containing a limpid fluid with larval tapeworms in it--a delightful arrangement, for the little tapeworms at least." VN's definition here is quite similar to the definition in Webster's 2nd, so we can imagine that, while researching Hyde's name, VN came across this similar word and noted the fitting connection.

It is apparent, however, that VN's interest in parasites included more than just definitions in the dictionary. When preparing to write PF, he must have looked up info on the bot-fly, and in his 1964 Playboy interview, he provides a "little batch of rejects" discarded during the writing of PF (recently noted by Jansy, I believe). The last of these is a quote from The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 48:558, describing the undesirable nature of tapeworms, which "frequently crawl out of a person's anal canal." I recently tracked down this fairly brief article,* thinking that it perhaps included information on bot flies. It did not. To my surprise, however, it does contain an extensive description of "hydatid disease," which the author calls "one of the most serious parasitic diseases of man." This raises a few questions. Did VN consider using a tapeworm as the parasitic image in PF before settling on the bot-fly? Was he led to this article by a card catalogue entry for "hydatid"? Does this affirm Carolyn's assertion that VN had Jekyll & Hyde in mind when he wrote PF? If so, why did he reject the use of these lines, or any reference to tapeworms/hydatids? Was VN trying to give us a hint by including the reference in his interview?

Matt

PS--Has the card catalogue at the Cornell library been preserved? If so, that could be a daunting, but perhaps revelatory research project for someone.

--------------------------
* "Animal Parasites Transmissible to Man," by Willard H. Wright
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