Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017075, Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:38:23 -0300

Re: Nabokov's son, Dmitri, said in an e-mail ...
Sandy Klein reports: "Returning to flight / Efforts of New England biologists help usher in rebirth of the endangered Karner blue butterfly"
Complete article at following URL: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/09/14/returning_to_flight/
...Vladimir Nabokov netted his first Karner near Albany in 1950, according to the book "Nabokov's Butterflies," but by then the population was declining. "I hope, after all of our work, that it's able to hang on," he said. "It's real a survivor, I think, and it's a wonderful little animal to have in our life."
JM: My heartfelt wishes for the preservation of nature, and the Karners, include the wish to find that this "wonderful little animal" may have his life for itself, too, along with other less wonderful ones.

JA: Bootle's points are marvelous. I've had something like that same thought about the "stranger", "danger" myself as well as another of Nabokov's when discussing Gogol: namely the "cosmic" and the "comic" are separated by one letter.
JM: The comic and the cosmic are simultaneously separated and approached by this one letter., clashing and blending. Just like "zany". I wonder if VN could have been searching for... a prime word? See, I could not avoid hearing, in "zany", the zanily hidden "zenith" in:

p.99 "can't you see that happiness at its very best is but the zany of its own mortality?"

To feel reassured about my choice ( how would V have pronounced "zenith"?), I dikigoogled "zany" and "zenith". The word zenith derives from the inaccurate reading of the Arabic word samt ('path'), pronounced sent, by scribes in the Middle Ages (during the 14th century), in the expression samt arrâs ('path above the head'). Perhaps VN's vision of transcendence is not resultant from the ardis of time when shot in a straight ascending line: could it be...spherical? VN was quite sensitive to "verbal surroundings", as in p.117: "fatal split between Knight the artist and the great booming world about him" - (a circular fissure, obvisously)

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