Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0014321, Sat, 9 Dec 2006 13:30:27 +0000

Re: c/k/s, Karlik & Kinbote: camouflage or coincidence?
On 4/12/06 17:16, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> We might also imagine that, by inverting the perspective, this "kinbote"
> becomes a statement concerning a small boy's right to extract a payment from
> his seducer

JM: Another list in which I dabble is devoted to that wonderful but
neglected language Englisc (AngloSaxon spelling but pronounced [Old]
English, as far as we can tell!). Wergild [aka blood-money, literally man-
or life-money] is well documented with precise price lists according to the
victim¹s RANK:

³Cynges wergild is XXX [th]usend [th]rysma: XV [th]usend [th]rysma by[th]
[th]aes weres 7* XV [th]usend [th]rysma [th]aes cynedomes ... ³
³A King¹s wergeld is 30,000 thrysmas: 15,000 for the man and 15,000 for the
The menu then gives archbishops/aethelings [15,000], high-sherriffs [4,000]
mass-priests [2,000] right down to ³Ceorles wergild is CC 7* LXVI
[th]risma**² ³A CHURL¹s*** wergild is 266 thrysmas.²

IN RE Gradus¹s murder of John Shade, one wonders what wergeld might apply to
the accidental killing of a mere LitCrit poetaster?!

* Œ7¹ is m/s shorthand for Œand.¹ NB: I don¹t have the fonts for the pretty
hard/soft [th] characters.
** Carolyn: Spelling with ŒY¹ or ŒI¹ didn¹t bother anyone in the Xth
century! The value of the gold (later silver) coin [th]rysma is unknown.
*** It was no fun being a lowly churlish churl!

Wergeld compensated the next-of-kin for killing a kin, helping to reduce
on-going blood feuds. Of interest to JM¹s note, wergeld could also help
Œsettle¹ sexual offences:

³Gif friman wi[th] fries mannes wif geliege[th] his wergelde abicge 7
o[th]er wif his agenum scaette begete 7 [th]aem o[th]rum aet ham gebrenge.²
³If a freeman lies with the wife of a freeman, he is to requite with his
wergeld and to acquire another woman with his own money and bring [her] to
the other at home.²

[³An Invitation to Old Enlish & Anglo-Saxon England,² Bruce Mitchell,
Blackwell, 1995]

No mention of how this intriguing Œcompo¹ would work in the case of daughter
(or son!) seductions!

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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