Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025624, Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:06:34 -0700

Two Johns Ray
De: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Em nome de Jansy Mello
Enviada em: segunda-feira, 11 de agosto de 2014 22:28
Para: [log in to unmask]
Assunto: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] Parhelia
Carolyn Kunin: “ The parhelion reminds me of two related optical phenomena, the "Brocken Spectre" and "solar glory," which reinforce - to myself, that is - the possibility that VN was referencing Js. Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner...”
Jansy Mello: What an amazing – and pertinent- link between Js. Hogg’s novel and “Pale Fire”,  not to mention the Wikipedia photograph of a brocken spectre halloed by glory and a link to a “fourth wall”.
Do you think there’s another reference to be found in “Lolita” ( HH’s “confessions” that were edited and prefaced by John Ray Jr)?
Dear Jansy,  
Today I do have something to add to your question about John Ray Jr, as he is designated in the Preface to Lolita. I am considering the purchase of a 1674 book by one John Ray, entitled "A Collection of English VVords Not Commonly Used", not thinking there was any relation to VN or Lolita. However, in checking out John Ray (1627-1705) I discovered that he was a naturalist and that his name was sometimes spelled Wray, which did ring a hazy bell, since I have always felt that Lolita's "wreal" surname was Hayes. Not sure if this has ever been discussed (the archives reveal that it has), and it has even been reported that "according to John Ray, Jr., 'Haze' only rhymes with the heroine's real surname" - a very rich rhyme, indeed. 
But in pursuing the question of any possible relationship between  17th century John [w]Ray and John Ray Jr., I have found two candidates for references possibly intended by VN. 

1) John Ray or Wray: (NB the initials form "Jr") An eminent naturalist and far ahead of his time especially in the field of fossils. One of his books was published byJohn Hayes, and the other combines a study of words with a catalogue of birds (shades of Pale Fire) and fishes along with minerals and metals in England.

Interestingly, he was the first to propose that the intricacies of the eye were evidence of a supreme designer. He preceded Linnaeus in understanding the importance of developing a system of taxonomy and proposed the use of Latin to do so.

2) the Scottish Arctic explorer John Rae, M.D., who earned the displeasure of the English public and John Franklin's widow when it was revealed that in his attempts to find out what had happened to the Franklin expedition, he heard of possible cannibalism from the Inuit. Although thoroughly reviled at the time, he was eventually vindicated when 140 years later physical evidence was discovered that more than suggested that some of the party had indeed resorted to cannibalism.

He  (and not Franklin) is also now recognized as the actual discoverer of the North West passage.

Both JRs it seems to me would appeal to VN - so why use the name for someone clearly contemptible in VN's eyes? That I can't begin to answer.


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