Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020943, Tue, 2 Nov 2010 23:49:18 -0200

Re: ginkgo biloba
Matt Roth: In our article on PF, Tiffany & I relate the Ginkgo poem to Goethe's. In this context, your Gradus note (tree=3) is quite helpful. Shade is two (himself and Kinbote) and Gradus makes tree. Thanks for the insight!

JM: One has to return to analogies and puns over and over to be able to dislodge them from a set meaning. Very nice wording ("...and Gradus makes tree").

Although Kinbote was careful to reveal the proximity between Grados* and Gradus, the other step ("tree/three") is not one everybody dares to make. K's note almost authorizes the gradation from botany into a downgraded "Sacred Trinity..." Like Kinbote, Hazel toyed with words (spider/redip, pot/top), but there is a clumsy one, "a didactic katydid," which always puzzles me. Swift 's poem "Cadenus and Vanessa" plays with his academic status (Cadenus is an anagram of Decanus, ie, Dean). I wonder if "didactic katydid" could refer to "cadenus decanus," thereby subreptitiously bringing in Swift's old age madness?

* CK to Line 49 (shagbark) "... Our poet shared with the English masters the noble knack of transplanting trees into verse with their sap and shade...bulldozers spared an arc of those sacred trees planted by a landscaper of genius (Repburg) at the end of the so-called Shakespeare Avenue...I do not know if it is relevant or not but there is a cat-and-mouse game in the second line, and "tree" in Zemblan is grados."

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