Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025007, Thu, 16 Jan 2014 22:56:48 -0200

Re: ANNC Re: ADAonline I.36
B. Boyd's Annotations to ADA:
"The reference to Carroll’s famous books (already invoked as Palace in Wonderland at 53.25-30) is appropriate, given the attention there to games (cards, chess, croquet, and more) and word puzzles, including the Mad Hatter’s famously unanswered riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” "

Victor Fet has provided a full account related to ravens and writing desks and it can be found at the VN-L (August, 2006):
[SKB asks]: Is it fanciful to suppose VN was familiar with such wordplay?
[V.FEt] : "He had to be, because he translated "Alice in Wonderland" ! During the Tea Party, the Alice is asked how a raven is like a writing
desk. "Have you guessed the riddle yet?" the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
"No, I give it up," Alice replied. "What's the answer?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," said the Hatter.
"Nor I," said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. "I think you might do something better with the
time," she said, "than wasting it in asking riddles that have no
answers." [sounds somewhat Kinbotean]
According to the specialists, http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_266.html
"....Lewis Carroll himself got bugged about this so much that he was moved to write the following in the preface to the 1896 edition of his
book: "Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter's Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on
record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz:`Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is
never put with the wrong end in front!' This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all.
Did this discourage people? No. They figured, that dope Carroll, he's too dumb to figure out his own riddle, setting aside the halfhearted
attempt just quoted. So they ventured answers of their own, some of the more notable of which are recorded in Martin Gardner's The Annotated
Alice and More Annotated Alice: *Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes. (Puzzle maven Sam Loyd, 1914)
*Because Poe wrote on both. (Loyd again)
*Because there is a B in both and an N in neither. (Get it? Aldous Huxley, 1928)
*Because it slopes with a flap. (Cyril Pearson, undated)
Not bad for amateurs. But the real answer, to which the careers of Poe and Carroll bear ample testimony, is that you can baffle the billions
with both.
Postscript: In 1976 Carroll admirer Denis Crutch pointed out that in the 1896 preface quoted above, the author had originally written: "It is
nevar put with the wrong end in front." Nevar of course is raven spelled backward. Big joke! However, said joke did not survive the ministrations
of the proofreaders, who, thinking they understood the author's intentions better than the author, changed nevar to never in subsequent
editions. The indignities we authors suffer! Sure, it's partly made up for by the money and groupies, but still, if in some book (e.g., this
one) you come across a line that really clanks, be assured: it was funny before."
See also http://www.lewiscarroll.org/bull.html
Sorry for a Carrollian interlude but there is always a lot of common things to be found, including intentional (?) "spelling errors".
Victor Fet
The other superficial reminders may have been mentioned already and more fully in BB's former annotations but I'll write them down here for further checking before I forget it....
Cf. 305.32-33: “a pair of saffian bedroom slippers fetally folded.”
JM: The same image recurs in "The Original of Laura."

223.33: Jupiter or Jurojin: For the combination of Japanese and Jupiter, cf. 520.17-18: “her new, young, divine Japanese neck which he had been coveting like a veritable Jupiter Olorinus.”
JM: The "Japanese neck" must also be related to Jupiter's metamorphosis into a swan ( Lat: Olorinus) Later there are references to Leda and the eggs from which Helen, Pegasus and Castor & Polux hatched (I didn't check these items) Leda appears in a mural at a Swiss hotel (Alphonse II or III?).
There was a note exploring this idea in "The Nabokovian" a few years ago.

226.07-08: redolent with the perfume called Miniver Musk by handmaids: Cf. 114.15-17: “Blanche . . . . rushed down the corridor and lost a miniver-trimmed slipper on the grand staircase, like Ashette in the English version.” Cf. also Van hastening to join Ada, his “young accomplice, whose delicate musk he still preserved in the hollow of his hand” (124.09-10) on the night after the Burning Barn. A1: “see p. 190.” In fact 191.04-10: “Blanche . . . wore a miniver cloak that Ada had lost in the woods.” MOTIF: Cinderella; miniver.
JM: This theme is explored at length in PNIN. I think it was Lucette, not Ada, who had a pair of "Glass" shoes.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: ADAonline I.36
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 03:30:01 +0000
From: Brian Boyd <b.boyd@auckland.ac.nz>
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

Dear all, The annotations for ADA Pt 1 Ch 36 are now online at http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/.
Brian Boyd

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