NABOKV-L post 0024662, Thu, 3 Oct 2013 09:26:59 -0600

Re: french terms in pale fire
On Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 5:51 AM, Yigit Yavuz <> wrote:

> Thank you, Barrie and Bedja.
> I also personally asked these terms to the Nabokov biographer Andrea
> Pitzer and to
> Rene Alladaye, the writer of the latest Pale Fire book. Mr. Alladaye also
> states that
> volant en arrière means "flying backwards". But curiously, the term also
> has the
> meaning which was already given in the very same sentence: a heraldic
> insect. Please
> check the link given by Andrea Pitzer:
> Would it be correct to say, then, that Nabokov only makes a repetition
> here:
> a heraldic butterfly is a winged insect; in other words, a volant en
> arrière...

Very interesting. I always thought it meant "flying backwards" (but why
mention that?). However, as that link says, it's the full heraldic term
for a flying animal shown from above (that is, so its back is seen) with
its wings spread. Heraldic bees and butterflies are generally shown in
this position.

So it's not a repetition; it's a specification of how the butterfly is
depicted. (True, all heraldic butterflies are depicted the same way, but I
believe the rules requires that the position be specified.)

I'm also interested in *"feuilles d'alarme"*. I can't find this in Google
Books except for uses that seem to be later than *PF* and to refer to alarm
systems for buildings. Did Nabokov make it up? If so, is it amusing or
connected to something in some way?

Jerry Friedman

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