Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025336, Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:14:50 +0000

Re: viola/viol/vial/phial . . .
>>>”Fialta, an Adriatic resort whose name is a blend of Fiume and Yalta”

As we celebrate birthdays of both VN and The Bard, don’t forget Viola and Sebastian who were shipwrecked off the Adriatic shore (Illyria).

Yalta, and Crimea in general form the most important episode of VN’s youth – his first entomological publication, his last shrunken piece of free Russia, now again part of Tartary.

Victor Fet

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Didier Machu
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2014 4:25 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] viola/viol/vial/phial . . .

The pun (is it merely a pun?) on vial and violet certainly came easily to VN's mind, witness the "vial of violet-blue capsules banded with dark purple" Humbert is prescribed by Dr. Byron (the next doctor he faces is Dr. Blue): "the pill vial" containing "Papa's Purple Pills" Humbert, of course, is to produce before Lolita (his own "ultraviolet darling") and experiment on her.
Didier Machu
Returning to the “violets” (viola/viol/vial/phial and… fialka?) in the posting where I quoted from Ada (related to her “violarium”) I forgot to add the concluding lines that mention Dr. Krolik’s death (he died intestate) since the three quotes begin with violets and end with references to death. Brian’s relation of violets and larvae in ADA to John Shade’s lines about IPH [“Iph / Was a larvorium and a violet, / A grave in Reason’s early spring.” (52, ll. 515-17) ] added a fundamental connection not only concerning those two novels, but his short-stories too.
I found the Russian word “fialka” in Aliko Nakata’s article and another entry deserving investigation: violets and women ( mothers and adulterous wives):
“Fialta, an Adriatic resort whose name is a blend of Fiume and Yalta (Boyd Russian Yeas, 426), is associated with violets via fialka, the Russian word for violet (Lee 33, Parker 131). The first association of Fialta with violets occurs near the beginning of the story: "I am fond of Fialta […] because I feel in the hollow of those violaceous syllables the sweet dark dampness of the most rumpled of small flowers, and because the altolike name of a lovely Crimean town is echoed by its viola" (413, italics added). The adjectives "dark" and "small," used here to describe violets, are also used elsewhere to describe Nina: "I still wonder what exactly she meant to me, that small dark woman of the narrow shoulders and 'lyrical limbs' " (423). A Failed Reader Redeemed: "Spring in Fialta" and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight Akiko Nakata, Nagoya, Japan. Nabokov Studies, 11, 2007/2008.
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