NABOKV-L post 0006139, Thu, 30 Aug 2001 18:28:46 -0700

Re: Yan, Yonny, and Angeling query (fwd)
From: "Brian Boyd (FOA ENG)" <>

Brian Boyd writes:

Perhaps I begin by stating the obvious, but Robert Mills writes that he
welcomes even that:

the master builder and his apprentices have been killed so as not to be in a
position to divulge that they have built a tunnel leading Thurgus the Third
to his mistress Iris Acht

Nabokov is of course having fun with the equivalence of an English Y and a
Swedish J or G+e: Jan, Johnny and anGeling to a Swedish tongue sound Y to an
English ear

"the three young apprentices whose pretty first names Yan, Yohnny, and
Angeling are preserved in a ballad still to be heard in some of our wilder
valleys" evokes the "Erlkönig" theme (P.662, C.662), although Goethe's poem
is not strictly a ballad; hence the pedophilia theme; and hence, in
"Angeling," "the LITTLE ANGLER, a honey-skinned lad, naked except for a pair
of torn dungarees, one trouser leg rolled up, frequently fed with nougat and
nuts, but then school started or the weather changed, 609" (Index, s.v.

if I were AA rather than BB I might suggest a reference to Shelly Fabares'
early 1962 #1 hit song "Johnny Angel" (at the same time as the Shadows were
also chart-toppers); after all the Index's "famous . . . Elvina Krummholz,"
never mentioned again, seems famous only in mock-homage to Elvis, also at
his peak of popularity in these years; but VN completed the novel, alas, in

the three young apprentices Yan, Yonny and Angeling probably do refer
primarily, as Stephen Anderson suggests, to the legend of Masonry, which was
wonderful news to me (although at the link he supplies, Jubelo, Jubela and
Jubelum are not specified as his assistants, only as "ruffians"). The
"master builder . . . apprentices" may reflect the fact that in Britain
masonry has three degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow of the Craft, and
Master Mason. Pushkin was a Mason, and Nabokov comments on EO "A
provincial squire would regard a Freemason as a revolutionary. Masonic
lodges were forbidden in Russia in the spring of 1822" (EO 2.226). The
suspected revolutionary nature of this shadowy secret organization adds to
the builder-and-threesome, triple-J, and paranoid fantasy themes that
Stephen Anderson notes.

-----Original Message-----
From: Galya Diment
Sent: 8/29/2001 2:50 AM
Subject: Re: Yan, Yonny, and Angeling query (fwd)

From: Stephen Anderson <>

Well, it would seem to connect the Shadows with the Masons, who have
also been
the subject of various paranoid fantasies. The basic legend of Masonry
that of Hiram Abiff, builder of the Temple of Solomon, who was murdered
by his
3 assistants, Jubelo, Jubela and Jubelum. See, for example,
Hope this helps.

Incidentally, I think that this entry in the Index is part of the
puzzle. Has anyone out there solved that one?

Steve A.

Galya Diment wrote:

> From: Robert Mills <rmills@PEDAGOGUE.COM>
> ...Yan, Yonny, and Angeling... ("Pale Fire", index)
> I have been fretting over this reference to the three apprentices of
> master builder for quite a while. If someone could supply a hint,
> or theory, I would be most grateful (even if it's something obvious
that I
> should have thought of myself).
> Thanks.