Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026507, Tue, 6 Oct 2015 22:20:08 -0700

more about Disa & Sybil
On Oct 6, 2015, at 6:06 AM, Jansy Mello wrote:

C.Kunin:The Disa in the story provided by Dieter Zimmer is the same as
the legendary Disa that I found, but it was Dis as another name for
Hades* that I was actually looking for but did not find. Hades is an
anagram for Shade - or vice versa (see versipel) I suppose. [*Dieter
Zimmer: 'Pluto's other names are Hades and Dis.' ]

Jansy Mello: Shade/Hades is an anagram, but was it intended by VN, in
the sense that the name Shade would’ve been chosen because of this
wordplay instead of its other shades of darkness?
You mention Disa as a figure of the underworld and, although you
didn’t mention it this time, you once brought up your theories about
how Disa relates to Sybil Shade. How would you connect both names,
Shade/Hades and Disa, or their allusions?

Dear Jansy,

I don't think I ever had much to say about Disa - I found Sylvia Odon
was it? closer to Sybil. Sybil is certainly in "payne" but she doesn't
do much moaning that I can recall (though Hazel does I think). The
trinity of Shade, Kinbote, Gradus is reflected in the threesome of
Sybil, Sylvia and Disa.

But it isn't necessary to go even that far aField (Forgive me). If
Shade is related anagrammatically to Hades, Sybil is in her own name
directly related to the underworld. If memory serves correctly, the
sybils of ancient Greece would perch in Delphi over clefts in the
earth from whence fumes arose and it was these fumes (literally
'smokes') from the underworld that would intoxicate and inspire them.
When it comes to the Greeks, the underworld is rarely far away. BTW,
Sybil Vane is an important character in Oscar Wilde's Picture of
Dorian Gray. Her counterpart in Zembla is Iris Acht.

I checked the archives and of the dozen or so posts that contain both
"Disa" and "Carolyn," most were really Disa-greements (and one each
Disa-ster and Disa-ppointment*). But I did find one post "Why did Pale
Fire's Disa laugh?" which I wrote, but can no longer remember to what
it refers. Most of the post is taken up with the crown jewels.

I do know why Abraham's wife laughed (her son was named after that
laugh "from the Hebrew name יִצְחָק (Yitzchaq) which meant
laughter or "he laughs") but will have to look back at Pale Fire to
see when and why Disa laughed. So I will do some reading and get back
to you. Maybe some else remembers?

Good to hear from both you and Alexey, by the way.

*The archives are a real hoot - I never before realized that both a
laugh and laughter lurk in slaughter.

P.S. It is of course purely coincidental that Mrs Shade's given name
is the same as that of the famous Sybil, the protagonist of "a 1973
[thus written eleven years after the publication of Pale Fire] book by
Flora Rheta Schreiber [and subsequent tv film] about the treatment of
Sybil Dorsett (a pseudonym for Shirley Ardell Mason) for dissociative
identity disorder(then referred to as multiple personality disorder)
by her psychoanalyst, Cornelia B. Wilbur" (from the Wikipedia). But it
is interesting. Some may recall that I thought VN made some references
in PF to a similar book and film called The Three Faces of Eve (1957).
Quite unrelated is a novel of the same name by Benjamin Disraeli.
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