Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025629, Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:16:59 -0400

"A black hot humid night" in ADA - B Boyd's notes 250.03-27 -
E.B-Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night"
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [NABOKV-L] "A black hot humid night" in ADA - B Boyd's
notes 250.03-27 - E.B-Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night"
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 01:34:03 -0300
From: Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@outlook.com>
To: 'Vladimir Nabokov Forum' <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

Brian Boyd, in The Nabokovian, 72 (2014) compares the lines describing
"black hot humid night" in ADA and compares them to two lines in "Lolita"
(140;283) and one in "Pale Fire"(90) by CK "It was a hot, black, blustery
He quotes:
250.03-05 "It was - to continue the novelistic structure - a long, joyful,
delicious dinner [...] The tablecloth and the candle blaze attracted
timorous or impetuous moths [ ]and party-crashing hawk-moths with red
black-belted bellies, sailed or shot, silent or humming, into the dining
room out of the black hot humid night."
250.27 It was a black hot humid night in mid-July, 1888, at Ardis, in Ladore
county, let us not forget, let us never forget, with a family of four seated
around an oval dinner table...
My attention was drawn by Brian's reference to "to continue the novelistic
structure" related to this dramatic nightly setting.

I remembered Charles Schulz's Snoopy satirical variations for a similar
"purple" sentence in a novel ("It was a dark and stormy night").

I checked it in the Wikipedia: "It was a dark and stormy night" is an
often-mocked and parodied phrase written by English novelist Edward
Bulwer-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The
phrase is considered to represent "the archetypal example of a florid,
melodramatic style of fiction writing," also known as purple prose. The
phrase comes from the original opening sentence of Paul Clifford: "It was a
dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional
intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the
streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the
housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that
struggled against the darkness."

I wonder if Nabokov had the often parodied lines of B-Lytton in mind?

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