Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026218, Sat, 6 Jun 2015 23:03:19 -0300

[TRIVIA- QUERY] He,she, it... Gold, silver,
copper: fairy-tale themes?
In one of his lectures at Cornell in 1951 V. Nabokov remarked to his
students that "the caterpillar is a he , the pupa is it and the butterfly is
(Cf. <http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat52/sub333/item1594.html>

An earlier comment, voiced by Hermann in "Despair" plays with another
threesome: "The weighty German word for "money" (money in German being gold,
in French, silver, in Russian, copper) was mouthed by him."

I ignore how many similar approximations can be spotted in Nabokov's
writings (I only found these two), or if they should be placed side by side
as deliberate indications of fairy-tale "threes."
Even when they are evaluated independently from this hypothesis, they retain
their humoristic mood. Hermann's observation is not discrepant from a madman
ratiocination but VN's sentence about the "gender" of lepidoptera expressed
during class is rather surprising.


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