Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024847, Thu, 28 Nov 2013 14:40:54 -0800

Re: [QUERY] Pushkin in LRL& a PS: one instance in PF
Dear Jansy,

Interessant! (sp?) Thanks for the "nutritive" reference. What should the linguist have said? how does one say "to feed the cat"in french?  je donne a manger a mon chat.

I love the fact that in German there are separate verbs for "to eat" for humans (essen) and for animals (fressen). Why is this night different from all other nights? Heute abend (Thaksgivukah) fressen wir!  Try translating that, unhappy linguist! Actually "pig out" comes to mind...

By the way, se nourrir means to eat. I had to look it up. Despite what Frogs think, French is no more rational than English. 4Reminds me of high school french class. One day the teacher asked us to translate "Jack and Jill went up the hill." The student picked on came up with "Jacques et Jill se sont montes sur la colline." I laughed and was rewarded with a dirty look from M. Klein, who I have been told since may have been one of Trotsky's body guards in Mexico. Not that that has anything to do with anything - mais c'est interessant, n'est-ce pas?

But the reference to Lafontaine - how do you understand it. Clearly Shade refers to"la fourmi et la cigale" the latter of which appears elsewhere in the poem. In Lafontaine (and Aesop) the aunt - woops, I mean ant - i.e. "the mandible" lives while the singer, the grasshopper, is left to beg or die. So VN reverses the order, but what has that to do with the nice Englishman?


From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
Sent: Thursday, November 28, 2013 7:55 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] [QUERY] Pushkin in LRL& a PS: one instance in PF

 Re: [NABOKV-L] [QUERY] Pushkin in LRL
C.Kunin: ..."I recall the
first time I was confronted with translating "bread" into "du pain" - clearly
that is the translation, but what on earth do a baguette and wonder bread (the
bread of that time) have in common?Translating water into wine is nothing in
comparison (just add grapes and a little time). Now that recalls to mind the day
I realized that the French don't have a word comparable to the English word
"food." Il y a bien sur "de la nouriture"  but it's not the same thing. You
do not eat de la nouriture..."Jansy Mello: "Nabokov, in his letters, puzzled about the rendering of
"mead" in Russian...Wouldn't he have subtly inserted in ADA, at least, any
comment about such discrepancies?"
Jansy Mello: A nutrititive
reference by John Shade (cum translation),lines 242-245 (he spells it
correctly, too)
                                                                                 That Englishman in Nice,
                                                  A proud andhappy linguist: je
                                                  Les pauvres cigales —
meaning that he
                                                  Fed the poor sea gulls!
                                                                                       Lafontaine was wrong:
                                                  Dead is the mandible, alive the song.
there more hints that deal directly with " French food" (ie: "French
cuisine" versus "Restauration rapide")?
In the French translation (Girard/Coindreau) of: Blawick,Blue Cove, a pleasant seaside resort on the Western Coast of Zembla,
casino, golf course, sea food, boats for hire, 149. the word sea food appears as:"fruits de
mer."  English "food" is so generic! I wonder when and how did
careful Nabokov use the word "food" in his English novels.  
In ADA he writes about
catfood, larvae and their "foodplants"
and I  also found:
1.Mlle Larivière did not touch any food till noon, being a
doom-fearing ‘midinette’ (the sect, not the shop) and had actually made
her father confessor join her
2. Tonight
she contented herself with the automatic ceremony of giving him what she
remembered, more or less correctly, when planning the menu, as being his favorite food — zelyonïya shchi, a velvety green
sorrel-and-spinach soup, containing slippery hard-boiled eggs and served with
finger-burning, irresistibly soft, meat-filled or carrot-filled or
cabbage-filled pirozhki — peer-rush-KEY, thus pronounced, thus celebrated
here, for ever and ever. After that, she had decided, there would be
bread-crumbed sander (sudak) with boiled potatoes, hazel-hen (ryabchiki) and that special asparagus (bezukhanka) which does not
produce Proust’s After-effect, as cookbooks say.[   ]‘Well, his look as if they were about to octopus the
food he
3. Demon, who was now glutted with family joys and slightly
annoyed he had missed the first half of a gambling night in Ladore for the sake
of all that well-meant but not quite first-rate
4. There she
husked out of her sweat shirt, hitched up her green shorts and, asquat on the
russet ground,attacked the food she had
5. oh, they
positively stank, you know, your little shorts of lavendered Ada, and her catfood, and your caked
6. Live egg-laying females andlive food plants, such as violets
of numerous kinds, airmailed from
7.‘I enjoy
— oh, loads of things,’she continued in a melancholy, musing tone of voice, as she poked
with a fork at her blue trout which, to judge by its contorted shape and bulging
eyes, had boiled alive, convulsed by awful agonies.    ]
‘I love Flemish and Dutch oils, flowers,food, Flaubert,
Shakespeare[   ] but somehow all of it, this sauce and all the riches
of Holland, form only a kind of tonen’kiy-tonen’kiy (thin little) layer,
under which there is absolutely nothing, except, of course, your image, and that
only adds depth and a trout’s agonies to the emptiness. I’m like Dolores — when
she says she’s "only a picture painted on air."’//‘Never
could finish that novel — much too pretentious.’//‘Pretentious but true. It’s exactly my sense of existing — a
fragment, a wisp of
8. he lost the power of speech, though still able to nod or shake his
head, frown in concentration, or faintly smile when inhalingthe smell of
food (the origin, indeed, of our first
9. In regard to everyday life and the habitual comfort of the body
(reasonably healthy, reasonably strong, breathing the green breeze, relishing
the aftertaste of the most exquisite food in the world — a boiled
How amazing. Nabokov's employ of the word "food" is
very specious! (sometimes coming right after "glut", "devour" or "to octopus"
and primitive forms of nourishment) 

I loved to find a comment in
ADA about "Lolita" ( "Dolores...only a picture painted
on air"... "a wisp of color" ) and, stretching it, to Pushkin's "perfect
poem to K***" when we relate perfection and abyssal emptiness.

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