Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0014322, Sat, 9 Dec 2006 22:55:52 -0500

JF on versipellous Vseslav and botany (including a possible
To Victor Fet: Thanks for all the information on Prince Vseslav
Bryacheslavovich and Volkh Vseslavovich (son of Marfa
Vseslavyeva--I wonder whether they knew the Veens). I think
Nabokov could easily have connected either one with Shade's
versipel, but as the prince appears in /The Song of Igor's
Campaign/, I suspect he might be the primary one.

I was also very interested in "volkhv", sorcerer, with the
connection to the Three Magi, at least two of whom are
named in /Pale Fire/. I can read the Cyrillic alphabet just
enough to see that Prince Vseslav is called Vseslav Volkhv at
one of the sites you recommended,

To Jansy Mello: I think "weregild" (spelled various ways)
would remind most English speakers of "werewolf". Trivia:
the only other "native" English word containing this element
is "world" (Anglo-Saxon "weorold", "man-age"). More trivia:
the only Web site where I've found information about Angus
McDiarmid (n. 12) spells "werewolf" as "wehr-wolf"

I'm still hoping someone with access to etymologies of
obsolescent Russian words will check whether "vira" is
related to "were-" and "vir", either straight from Indo-
European or via a Scandinavian language.

Another "vir" word in the book is "virtue": Shade's parents
"Dissolve in their own virtues" and recede". I must admit
I don't see any PF connection with "virgo" (of uncertain origin)
or "virago" (which the dictionaries seem to think is unrelated
to "virer").

To Matt Roth: Some checking confirms that willowherb is not
loosestrife (purple or other) but what most Americans call
fireweed, /Epilobium angustifolium/. According to Wikipedia,
it's native to the entire north temperate zone, so it's not an
invader in America. It does "invade" burned and otherwise
cleared places, though, and it does have purple flowers.

Ironweed, on the other hand, is not fireweed. I believe
the ironweed whose deep purple flowers I remember from my Ohio
youth is /Vernonia noveboracensis/, also the most common
in West Virginia (stand-in for Appalachia), according to

Milkweed (/Asclepias/) probably is called spurge by some
people, but it shouldn't be, as that's an unrelated genus
(/Euphorbia/) of plants that also have milky sap.

Hm, another discrepancy? The weeds you mention should
contrast with goldenrod when they're blooming purple
and pale, and goldenrod is blooming, well, golden. But
S. and K. must visit the site of the barn on "a perfect
evening" (n. 347) in June at the latest. The only two
rambles in July are on the 6th, an "exasperating evening"
(n. 238), and on the 19th, cut short when Shade returns
home to start Canto 4 (n. 802). Does goldenrod bloom in
June in Appalachia? Does it even bloom by July 19? I
remember my mother mentioning it as a sign that summer
is ending. But there are 26 species of goldenrod in
West Virginia and I'm not going to look them all up.

After a little more research, I find that there are two
/Vernonia/ species in West Virginia, of which /V.
noveboracensis/ blooms "late summer into fall", and /V.
glauca/, August and September. I'm really thinking
Kinbote's picture of some of his region's most
spectacular wildflowers could only occur after Shade's
death, certainly not in June. Unless what's
spectacular here is Kinbote's misidentification of
very familiar plants.

Jerry Friedman

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