Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017480, Tue, 16 Dec 2008 14:31:29 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] Lolita, Dolores Haze ,Swinburne
JA: Actually I wasn't talking about the L or the T in the name, but the O sound, which Nabokov has indicated should be pronounced with a short "ah" and not a long "oh", which my friend told me is in fact pronounced "oh" in Spanish, i.e.: not "Lahlihta" but more like "Lohlihta", forgive my phonetic rendering.

JM: The "Lahlihta" results from VN's rendition of his reciting Lolita in Russian. Perhaps the "ah" is similar to Marina's pronunciation of "Ada"?

Below, two curious passages.
PNIN: "The organs concerned in the production of English speech sounds are the larynx, the velum, the lips, the tongue {that punchinello in the troupe), and, last but not least, the lower jaw; mainly upon its over-energetic and somewhat ruminant motion did Pnin rely when translating in class passages in the Russian grammar or some poem by Pushkin. If his Russian was music, his English was murder. He had enormous difficulty ('dzeefeecooltsee' in Pninian English) with depalatization, never managing to remove the extra Russian moisture from t's and d's before the vowels he so quaintly softened. His explosive 'hat' ('I never go in a hat even in winter') differed from the common American pronunciation of 'hot' (typical of Waindell townspeople, for example) only by its briefer duration, and thus sounded very much like the German verb hat (has). Long o's with him inevitably became short ones: his 'no' sounded positively Italian, and this was accentuated by his trick of triplicating the simple negative ('May I give you a lift, Mr Pnin?' 'No-no-no, I have only two paces from here'). He did not possess (nor was he aware of this lack) any long oo: all he could muster when called upon to utter 'noon' was the lax vowel of the German 'nun' "

VN on E. Wilson: "Upon being challenged to read Evgeniy Onegin aloud, [Wilson] started to perform with great gusto, garbling every second word, and turning Pushkin's iambic line into a kind of spastic anapest with a lot of jaw-twisting haws and rather endearing little barks that utterly jumbled the rhythm and soon had us both in stitches." And there's the scholarly assault, raining down upon Wilson's head like lethal ordnance. There couldn't have been much left afterwards: a smoking crater, some cuff links, a pair of glasses."

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