NABOKV-L post 0017819, Thu, 5 Mar 2009 23:30:25 -0300

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[NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Padus racemosa
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SKB: "Meanwhile, I admit to being thrilled [...] when I find Nabokov extolling "The Russian word [for the Padus racemosa] with its fluffy and dreamy syllables, admirably suits this beautiful tree ..."

JM: On VN's 72 birthday, i.e in April 23/1971, Alden Whitman (The New York Times) mentioned that: "As a writer, Mr. Nabokov travels with a dictionary, and his companion on a recent holiday in the south of Portugal was the 1970 edition of "Webster's Collegiate Dictionary." About it, he has some complaints. Although it includes the word "quassia" as derived from "Quassi," an 18th-century Surinam slave who discovered that the bitter drug made from the shrub was a remedy for fever, "none of my own coinages or reapplication appears in this lexicon-neither 'iridule' (a mother-of-pearl cloudlet in "Pale Fire," nor 'nymphet' (a 'perverse young girl,' according to another edition), nor 'racemosa' (a kind of bird cherry), nor several other prosodic terms such as 'scud' and 'tilt.'"

In the above reference we find VN's reivindication for having coined, or reapplied, the word "racemosa". There's something unclear in it: could VN be comparing the coinage of "nymphet", "iridule" and "racemosa", or should I pay more heed to his "reapplication", mentioned right after "coinages"?
The same happened with SKB's chosen quote, when one doesn't speak Russian to feel how the word for the "Padus racemosa" sounds, smells and shines in Russian:. are we to be thrilled exactly by what, the unimaginable "fluffy and dreamy sillables"?
Should the English reader synesthetically read "racemosa" and feel it in Russian?


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A translation into Portuguese of "Mythistorima" and other poems, by Nobel prize-winner Greek poet Giórgios Seféris, unpretentiously employs the word "racemoso" (J.P.Paes) for one of his striking lines. Internet dics inform: adj. racemose, arranged in clusters around a common stem; having stalked flowers along an elongated stem that continue to open in succession from below as the stem continues to grow ; "lilies of the valley are racemose"; the specific name 'racemosa' means 'having racemes'; a raceme being a string-like arrangement of stalked flowers.


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