NABOKV-L post 0006050, Wed, 27 Jun 2001 13:33:13 -0700

/Lloyd's Leap
For those who fail to realize the tremendous leaps that are made
daily in Nabokov studies, I offer the following.

In chapter 14 of THE DEFENSE, while Luzhin is waiting in Valentinov's
office he thumbs a movie magazine. "And on one there was a white-faced
man with lifeless features and big American glasses hanging by his hands
from the ledge of a skyscraper--just about to fall off into the abyss."
(The Russian version is identical.) The image was identified some years
ago by Alfred Appel (pp. 161 & photos on 165-6 of NABOKOV'sDARK CINEMA)
as being from Harold Lloyd's 1923 film "Safety Last." One of the stills
reproduced by Appel is the famous scene in which Lloyd is hanging from
one hand of the clock. (See, by the way, the Barry Blitt New Yorker
cover of May 28, 2001.)

Now note that Nabokov does NOT mention the clock in his Luzhin
description which is what lends the film shot its grotesque humor.
Today, I happened to notice a Harold Lloyd www site that offers
reproductions of the original posters of "Safety Last". There are two
for "Safety Last"---an American one and a German one. The American
poster shows Lloyd astride the flag(-less) pole just above the clock
with his foot apparently resting on the clock hand. The German poster,
however, has no clock but rather Lloyd cling to the ledge of the
building with his wife reaching toward him over the side. In 1923
Nabokov lived in Berlin. Judging by the absence of the clock in the the
novel scene, it seems likely Nabokov was invoking the German rather than
the American poster. Both posters may be examined at the www addresses