Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020823, Sun, 3 Oct 2010 03:20:53 +0100

Re: Nabokov's eyes
Jansy and all*: I had already found Lo¹s eye-colour, but not until p. 47
(Lolita, Penguin ed. 2006). From the first encounter on p. 41 (Lo in
sun-glasses!) until p. 47, HH is more taken by other parts of Lo, and
doesn¹t assign an eye-colour even in the sexy scene when he¹s up close
actually licking dust from one of them. Describing his restless night after
this first close encounter, he mentions a Madrigal (now lost) composed to
honour the ³soot black lashes of her pale-gray vacant eyes.²

I avoided any spurious verbal links between the Haze family name and
hazel-coloured eyes because

(i) it¹s stretching things un peu trop to equate hazel with pale-gray (I
mean, VN could have given Lo more specifically hazel(ic) eyes than

(ii) Haze is NOT Lo¹s or her mother¹s real family name! We know from John
Ray¹s Foreword that the name Haze was invented to, as it were, protect the
innocent. All we know is that Lo¹s real surname rhymed with Haze. It might
be fun to list plausible American surnames that rhyme with Haze, and see if
any provide interesting allusions to the novel. Dr Ray also explains that
the name Dolores/Lolita was not changed because their sounds played such a
vital role in the story.

Incidentally, as Victor Fet reminded me when we met recently at a London
Prohibition Meeting, that even ³Humbert Humbert² is a made-up pseudonym; in
this case, one presumes, to protect the guilty? Victor sees a VN in-joke
with HH, echoing the many species with duplicate names (e.g., Bison bison.)

Entirely without the use of Wiki/Google, I came across this proof that Hazel
puns are quite ancient:

³Thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but
because thou hast hazel eyes.²
(Romeo and Julliet, III 1 (22)

Stan Kelly-Bootle

* Farewell SHB and aureservoir! Welcome back, SES. Note that I followed your
suggestions by addressing my email beyond the immediate recipient.

On 02/10/2010 17:26, "Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Stan K-B to JM: "enjoyed reading all your citations where VN¹s characters have
> Hazel(ic) eyes. Your next MISSION, if you dare accept it, is to find ALL
> references where VN describes eyes that are NOT-hazel(ic)! (Google¹s Boolean
> tools may be stretched?).Next, list ALL the specific eye-colour names used by
> VN. Simplify names and calculate percentages. Finally, and hardest (Google
> offers no help), ponder if the choice of eye-colour has any SIGNIFICANCE,
> e.g., providing CLUES to VN¹s narratival intentions, or affecting how we
> perceive the characters thus described."
> JM: Now, in your ice blue green tinted eyes, I've become a woman with a
> mission (ie: the deconstruction of selfsame mission). You forgot the
> importance of Lolita's eyes and the wordplay that ensues from it ( hazel is
> more often than not green/blue, not brown) eyes are "vair" (verre, vert,vrai,
> gray, furry like the animal mentioned in Pnin).
> Sandy! SES! Great to find you back. Thanks, Steve for your stoic patience
> and... sorry for the various postings on the same theme that, by accident,
> cluttered today's Nab-mail .
> I'll return some other time with the quotes about "vair" (Lolita and Pnin)
> but, with no google-aid, I won't be able to provide any "narratival intention"
> in VN, except for his various ways of indicating his own hazel-hued eyes
> shining through his female characters more often than not. A gender issue?

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