NABOKV-L post 0014142, Wed, 22 Nov 2006 00:50:33 -0500

Shade - Sleptsov, 'Christmas' - 'Signs and Symbols'
I suggested earlier that there is a link between last name of Shade and
Chernyshevski. Now let me bring up Sleptsov in short story 'Christmas'. The
comparison is fleeting - more of an undercurrent, but it's still there. That
story starts with death of a child in winter; his Father contemplates
suicide after reading fragments of son's diary. Just then the cocoon in the
biscuit tin had burst and black Attacus moth with glazy eyespots and
purplish bloom on its foretips appeared. Likewise in PF we have dark Vanessa
playing role in the ending when it appears in front of Shade who crosses the
threshold to Judge Goldsworth's house to meet his physical death and rebirth
in just completed poem. As Jeff Edmunds pointed out [Jeff Edmunds,
RJ:Christmas, 09/19/1994; Nabokov-L archive] that Russian original's version
of the title 'Rozhdestvo' etymologically relates to 'rozhdenie', birth:
Sleptsov has his spirit restored by magnificent display of the moth that his
son remembered in delirium. And in PF Shade is lead to rebirth by Vanessa
associated with his dead daughter. I put Sleptsov into my little 'Shade'
tin, to join Chernyshevski cocoon.

Separately, delicacy, economy and balance of symbols at key points of
'Christmas' [Roy Johnson, RJ:Christmas, 09/14/1994; Nabokov-L archive] are
matched and surpassed only by 'Signs and Symbols', IMHO.

Here are few URLs with photo of Attacus moth:

The picture in last site has characteristic blackish hue described in the
story. Also as Don pointed out [Fwd: RE: QUERY re Attacus moth, 01/09/2002;
Nabokov-L archive] "for those with Dieter Zimmer's 'A Guide to Nabokov's
Butterflies and Moths' there is a splendid picture of the Atlas Moth on the
next-to-last page."

George Shimanovich

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