NABOKV-L post 0014309, Thu, 7 Dec 2006 22:55:42 -0500

Jerry Friedman: zesty, "vira", and versipellous Vseslav
Charles, I think you're right to change your views on "zesty".
If it's not ungracious of me to suggest a further change, the
word doesn't sound schoolgirlish to me in the least. I can't
offer either sound argument or clear evidence, but in my
American experience it's not a conversational word for anyone
(except maybe in irony). I associate it more with literature
and advertising--so you still might have grounds to dislike it.

--- Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark05@MAIL.RU> wrote:

A. Bouazza wrote:
>> Kinbote: camouflage or coincidence?Kinboot, -bute, -bot. A wergeld or
>> man-boot paid by a homicide to the kin of the person slain.
> Dear Abdellah,
> The Russian equivalent of "kinboot" is vira. Interestingly, this
> obsolete, yet existing word (it is in the Dahl dictionary, and even in
> the Oxford Russian-English dictionary where it is translated as
> "wergeld") is close to both "Vyra" (the name of VN's family estate)
> "Vera" (the name of his wife). It is also close to the Latin vir.

Interesting is right! Is it etymologically related to "vir" (and
thus to "virile" and "virilia", words that Kinbote uses)? If so,
it's related to "weregild", and to "werewolf".

Speaking of werewolves, I finally learned or was reminded today
that medieval Russia's Prince Vseslav of Polotsk is depicted in
/The Song of Igor's Campaign/ as a werewolf. This fits very
nicely with Kinbote's being Botkin transformed into a monster.
It also makes me like one of my earlier speculations better: I
thought "that odd muse of mine, my versipel" could secondarily
refer to Kinbote as inspiring Shade, and here Vseslav was a

(Does anyone know who first pointed out Vseslav Polotsky's
lycanthropy in this connection? I can't find it in the archives.
I'll be annoyed if I read it somewhere and forgot it.)

Speaking of Vseslav, which syllable is accented? Am I right
in thinking that if you take out the first two sounds, you
get something close to Yeslove (see Index)? At least as close
as "ya lyublyu vas" is to "yellow-blue vase", anyway.

Jerry Friedman

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