NABOKV-L post 0007088, Fri, 15 Nov 2002 15:42:49 -0800

Fw: Fw: Colors and shades: the Temnosiniy and Proust allusions
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Friedman" <>
To: "Vladimir Nabokov Forum" <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
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> ...
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: alex
> > To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
> > Sent: Monday, November 04, 2002 5:55 PM
> > Subject: Colors and shades: the Temnosiniy and Proust allusions
> [big snip]
> > Do you still find Nabokov's wordplay unrewarding? Don't you think it
> > is well worth to learn a couple of languages so as to be able to read
> > wonderful books in them and to enjoy Nabokov still more immensly?
> This is probably addressed to me, as Mary Bellino's question was.
> I knew I shouldn't have said that I find a lot of Nabokov's wordplay
> unsatisfying, because people would call me on it! I should have
> just said that when the question whether Nabokov meant some
> suggested wordplay, my opinion isn't worth much because my taste is
> different from his.
> Anyway, since you ask, yes, I'm sure I'd find more to enjoy in
> Nabokov's English writing if I knew Russian.
> On the other hand, the "temnosiniy" connections (which I thank you
> for, Alex!) are a perfect example of wordplay that leaves me
> unsatisfied. If I may summarize it: Among Van's ancestors we find
> a real but extinct Russian patrician surname whose English
> translation is "dark blue". In a poem by a Russian poet who,
> Alex tells us, is alluded to repeatedly in _Ada_, that word occurs
> in an image of death as "dark blue night". This "night" is picked
> up later in _Ada_ in the phrase "Oceanus Nox" in connection with
> death. (Lucette's, right? I don't remember _Ada_ very well.)
> Nothing there doubles back on itself, or reinforces itself, or is
> paradoxical, or anything else that I'd enjoy. What helps a little
> is that dark blue, the ocean, and death remind me of some of Byron's
> most famous lines:
> Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!
> Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
> Man marks the earth with ruin - his control
> Stops with the shore; - upon the watery plain
> The wrecks are all thy deed, nor does remain
> A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
> When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
> He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
> Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
> _Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_, Canto the Second, CLXXIX, thanks to
> <>.
> For all I know the scene may have other references to Byron (Spenser,
> Berlioz, Don Juan...) or his alleged incest with his half-sister, or
> his daughter Ada Lovelace, which would help even more. But there's
> still not enough for me. In contrast, I like "eavesdrop; cavesdrop".
> Jerry Friedman
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