NABOKV-L post 0008873, Fri, 7 Nov 2003 09:43:37 -0800

Fw: Franz Werfel. Song of Bernadette (a.k.a. "Bernie's Song")
EDNOTE. Thanks again to Mary Bellino. I confess that somewhere in my
miscelleous piles of books (only laughingly to be called a library), I have
a dustjacketed copy of Werfel's book that I read on the grounds of VN's
glowing disrecommenation.) Which reminds me---Michael Juliar has
established the. Web Sit WNR (What Nabokov Read) as a repository for info on
all of VN's readings ( Check it out and, better

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary Bellino" <>
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> Don is quite right: Song of Bernadette was parodied in Bend
> Sinister. My source is Appel's Annotated Lolita, commentary
> to 246/2 (pp. 412-13 of the first edition):
> --------------
> une belle...en bleu: a beautiful lady all dressed in blue (a
> vision of the Virgin). "Visionary" nurse Mary is of Basque
> descent, and the Hautes-Pyrenees of her ancestors is in the
> same _departement_ (state) as Lourdes, where many little
> French girls have experienced visions of the blue-garbed
> Virgin, phenomema duly celebrated in the press and popular
> literature. Nabokov mocks a best-selling romance on the
> subject in Bend Sinister, Chapter Three: "...that remarkable
> cross between a certain kind of wafer and a lollipop, Louis
> Sontag's _Annunciata_, which started so well in the Caves of
> St. Barthelmy and ended in the funnies" (the object of the
> parody is Franz Werfel's Song of Bernadette)."
> ---------------
> Two observations may be made about this passage: it seems
> Nabokov might have actually read the book (?) and that it
> was still on his mind in 1946, when he was writing Bend
> Sinister, and also of course in the early 1950s when he was
> writing Lolita. It also seems to me likely, or at least
> possible, that he provided Appel with the material in the
> Annotated Lolita note above--I don't mean to impugn Appel's
> research skills, which are formidable, but the passing
> mention in Lolita seems to me too general to have
> immediately brought the Bend Sinister passage to mind,
> especially since the preceding paragraphs of Lolita contain
> a rapid-fire series of allusions to Bluebeard, Romeo and
> Juliet, Pushkin, commedia del'arte, Carmen (the Basque
> connection), and probably more.
> Mary