Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025313, Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:06:29 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] SIGHTING: Charlie Chaplin and Humbert in LO
A.Stadlen: I was struck, when I read this in The Spectator, by the following passage about Charlie Chaplin: "He ordered 342 takes over a two-year period of a single shot in City Lights -- the blind flower-seller handing over a bunch of violets to the Little Tramp. Was this perfectionism? A manifestation of obsessive compulsive disorder? Or was he behaving like a simple power-crazed brute?" The number 342, as we know, plays a mysterious role in Lolita: it is the house number in Lawn Street; the room number in the Enchanted Hunters hotel; and the number of "hotels, motels and tourist homes" Humbert "registered, if not actually stayed at" between July 5 and November 18, while trying to trace his persecutor (Quilty). A "two-year period" is also significant in Lolita.Could Nabokov have known about the repeated takes of the City Lights shot?

Jansy Mello: Perhaps VN didn’t know about the repeated takes of CC’s movie but, certainly, this “342” wasn’t a simple coincidence. It seems to be somehow related to those mysterious shadean “links and bobolinks” (if one believes in this type of occurrence). For example, we’ve been discussing the importance of “violets” (and not only the name, word or color violet), in Nabokov, just now, in some kind of connection with death and rebirth ...
I’d even started a search for the most significant references (I think there’s still another reference to sugared violets in “Colette,” but have no time to check that). The scene that was filmed 342 times brings forth a bunch of violets…

Here are three examples:
ADA: ‘Our fondest dream,’ she continued, ‘Krolik’s and my fondest dream, was to describe and depict the early stages, from ova to pupa, of all the known Fritillaries, Greater and Lesser, beginning with those of the New World. I would have been responsible for building an argynninarium[ ]. Live egg-laying females and live food plants, such as violets of numerous kinds, airmailed from everywhere [ ] The magnanery would be also a violarium, full of fascinating flourishing plants, from the endiconensis race of the Northern Marsh Violet to the minute but magnificent Viola kroliki recently described by Professor Hall.” [ ] II,7
RLSK: “Then she thrust into Sebastian's hand a small parcel of sugar-coated violets, gave my mother a nervous smile and followed the porter who was carrying out her luggage. This was all, and next year she died.”
Spring in Fialta: "Never mind, I was only joking," 1 hastened to say, lightly encircling her waist. From somewhere a firm bouquet of small, dark, unselfishly smelling violets appeared in her hands, and before she returned to her husband and car, we stood for a little while longer by the stone parapet, and our romance was even more hopeless than it had ever been[ ] . Nina, in spite of her long-standing, faithful imitation of them, had turned out after all to be mortal.”

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