Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025132, Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:52:15 -0300

Hamadryads Carya and Ampelos: Hazel and Vinogradus,
shagbarks and trees - Coincidences?

"tree" in Zemblan is grados.
(CK's note to JS's line 49: Shagbark)

While keeping in mind the eight Hamadryad sisters :Karya (Walnut or
Hazelnut); Balanos (Oak);Kraneia (Dogwood);Morea (Mulberry);Aigeiros (Black
Poplar);Ptelea (Elm);Ampelos (Vines, especially Vitis) and Syke (Fig), I
decided to check for a botanical link between Ampelos (Vine) and Karya
(Walnut or Hazelnut). There was none.
Nevertheless, because I'd followed my initial impulse I first explored the
scientific classification of John Shade's favorite tree: the shagbark, using
the Wikipedia. Surprise, surprise. The shagbark and the hazelnut/walnut are
connected but only through a perspective that considers the Hamadryad

The Shagbark hickory is "Carya ovate," classified as Plantae, Angiosperm
Eudicot, Rosid, of the order of Fagales. Its family is Juglandaceae and the
genus is Carya. The Hazel "Corylus avellana", like the Shagbark, belongs
among the Angiosperms, Eudicots, Rosids, Fagales but, here, the connections
seem to end for it belongs to the family of the Betulaceae. Its genus is
Corylus and, therefore, the "Carya ovata" is not of the same species as the
"Corylys avellana." However, the Hamadryad Karya represents not only the
hazelnut but also the walnut! This is how the shagbark hickory's
designation "Carya ovata" relates to the Karya nymph. For Carya "comes from
the Greek name for walnut.Ovata comes from the Latin word meaning
egg-shaped" and it is the walnut (that belongs to the Juglandaceae family,
like the shagbark) - not the hazel - that provides the connection between
the two Hamadryad sisters.

There's no doubt in my mind that V.Nabokov related the Vine and the Hazel
plants through the Hamadryad sisters Karya and Ampelos, despite their
biological distinction.
But in that case, Hazel Shade would be connected to her father's waxwing, to
CK's sampel and to the assassin Gradus! It seems to be too far-fetched. But
the connections are there and they are too intricately real to be merely
coincidental - unless there's plexed artistry involved in the thread that
runs through "Pale Fire" plotting it beyond V.Nabokov's wildest dreams.

Btw: I chose to explore the shagbark following a few references to it in
John Shade's poem, particularly to the "phantom of (his) little daughter's
swing" (cf. in particular lines 49,57 and 990):
I had a favorite young
shagbark there
50 With ample dark jade leaves
and a black, spare,
Vermiculated trunk. The
setting sun
Bronzed the black bark,
around which, like undone
Garlands, the shadows of
the foliage fell.
It is now stout and rough;
it has done well.
White butterflies turn
lavender as they
Pass through its shade
where gently seems to sway
The phantom of my little
daughter's swing.

Where are you? In the
garden. I can see
990 Part of your shadow near
the shagbark tree.

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