NABOKV-L post 0018388, Thu, 18 Jun 2009 15:14:16 -0300

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[NABOKOV-L] Iridules: a technical question.
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In the present dry season, in Brasilia, rain is only expected in October. Nevertheless, inspite of the incipient draught and future spotless blue skies, yesterday there were a few thinning strands of clouds on which I discerned a small squarish patch of rainbow, encased in the barest outline of a disrupted arc.
If rain there was, for the needed refraction of the light creating an iridescence, it must be falling high up in the strata and never reach the earth.

I wondered about Nabokov's "iridules" and looked it up in "Pale Fire".
In his note, Kinbote compares it to "nacreous gleams" and the Zemblan word he offers apparently means "a mother-of-pearl cloud." - so it confirms the "nacreous" colored effect (I don't dare to extend this to fishing baits and "alders"!).
Shade's neologism and definition suggest something more specific: an opalescent oval-shaped cloudlet (a propicious mirror, so it seems), which then reflects a distant rainbow and does not belong to the rainbow proper.

The rainbow is a "virtual" object and the iridule is a mirage (fatamorgana), a phenomenon that actualizes the rainbow in our eyes and "cages" our imagination. Like Tchekov's "Black Monk"? Iridules, according to Shade, are a rare phenomenon. I don't think I ever saw one, I wonder if they exist except for Shade.
Has anyone ever found an iridule?


PALE FIRE: ..."that rare phenomenon/ The iridule - when, beautiful and strange,/ In a bright sky above a mountain range/ One opal cloudlet in an oval form/ Reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm/ Which in a distant valley has been staged..."

CK note to line 109: iridule: An iridescent cloudlet, Zemblan muderperlwelk. The term "iridule" is, I believe, Shade's own invention. [ ] The peacock-herl is the body of a certain sort of artificial fly also called "alder." [...] (See also the "strange nacreous gleams" in line 634*)





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*childhood memories of strange/ Nacreous gleams beyond the adults' range.


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