Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019970, Tue, 4 May 2010 09:58:00 -0400

Jansy said:
Nevertheless, aren't you stretching too much the power of words when you apply almost every meaning of terms, such as "wick", as having been considered by and simultaneously included in one sentence?

MR: Who knows? At what point should we stop imagining possibilities? Or are you simply saying that my hypothesis was stated too declaratively? If so, I will concede the point: I'm guessing. Yet I tend to think that the more obscure the word, the more likely it is that VN investigated its origins. I've done a bit of research, and it seems that "wick of the mouth" is a term from Scottish dialect. All references to it (that I found) are from 19th Century books on Scottish lexicography. There is some conjecture that it relates to a geographical term for a bay, or inlet--thus village names like Southwick and Eastwick--and this "angle" in the shoreline is akin to the angle b/w cheek and the corner of the mouth. Vikings hid in these bays, thus the name. So perhaps VN learned it from his Scottish tutor? Even so, it seems likely that he would have looked it up at some point and noted the etymology. Given the Scottish nature of the word, perhaps it has been passed down in certain pockets of Appalachia, which was largely settled by Scotch-Irish (who must have named Lochenhead).

I suppose the meaning related to bays supports the notion that the ocean line docking is his razor shaving the wick of Shade's mouth?

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