NABOKV-L post 0014308, Thu, 7 Dec 2006 22:53:30 -0500

PF: Royal Weeds and Webster's 2nd
In CK's commentary to Line 347, just after the "Here Papa pisses"
joke, Kinbote notes a "square plot invaded with willow herb,
milkweed and ironweed, and teeming with butterflies, contrasted
with the goldenrod all around it." As usual, there is method in
the grouping. They are all, of course, plants which attract
butterflies, but they also relate to Kinbote's regal background
and to his role as commentator.

Willow Herb: More commonly known as Purple Loosestrife. Purple
is the color of royalty. It is also a notoriously invasive (note
Kinbote's verb, "invaded") species. Indeed, in New York State, it
is forbidden to plant Loosestrife, as it will quickly take over
any swampy area and crowd out the native species. Worse, the stalk
of the Loosestrife is so woody that waterfowl find it useless for
nesting. So "Willow Herb" fits nicely with the idea of Charles as
invasive species (like the European Starling) or parasite (bot).

Milkweed: This one is obvious, since milkweed is the host plant
for Monarch butterflies--the most common, or at least most noticed,
butterfly in the northeastern U.S. It is also known as "spurge,"
since it has a milky (latex) emission. Spurge, according to
Webster's 2nd, can mean "to purge, purify."

Ironweed: Sometimes called fireweed. It is also purple, thus royal.


Since receiving my copy of Webster's 2nd (thank you Salt Lake City),
I've been struck by how often illustrated words show up in PF. I did
a little survey (surely incomplete) of the full-page plates and came
up with the following, all of which are mentioned somewhere in PF.
No doubt I missed some. #s in parentheses are facing pages in

Farman airplane (54)
Cedar Waxwing (272)
Bobolink (272)
Robin (272)
Luna Moth (364)
Red Admiral (364)
Disa Uniflora orchid (658)
Jasper (orbicle of jasp) (1042)

A quick scan through the in-text illustrations from Aa-Ci revealed
the following:

alder 61
aments 83
automatic pistol 187
bat 230
beaver 241
bird (waxwing) 272
bobolink 300
botfly and bot 315
brain of man (looks like a walnut) 324
capercaille 397
carnation 408
cedar waxwing 430
cicada 484

I also noted illustrations for "aeolian harp" (which appears
early in Lolita) and for "bend sinister" (a surprise to me!).
Yes, I should be grading papers.

Matthew Roth

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