Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024869, Sat, 7 Dec 2013 14:39:17 -0800

Re: Sighting & Quiz
Dear Jansy,

The Tetons are from the Frenchtétons (tits), maybe that was mentioned already? (I see now, you did) Breasts are known to become fountains as well (as in the Milky Way par example, not to mention innumerable fountains). So fountains and mountains easily morph into each other - very nabokovian.

Seagulls and Cigales! I didn't think of that! Interesting that the "quip" as you call it belongs to Kinbote and not to Shade as I misremembered. I should have expected the artist to prefer "alive the song."

From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
Sent: Friday, December 6, 2013 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Sighting & Quiz

Carolyn Kunin [to Jansy]
"Sapo or Sapho? Actually Frogs are the French which I usually capitalize,
but am sometimes too lazy. But you have not answered my two frogs (uncapitalized
questions) - 1) How do you understand "dead the mandible, alive the song" (I
quote from memory so may be off); and 2) What has it to do with the Englishman
in Nice whose French isn't up to "I am feeding the seagulls"?; oh, and let me
add a 3) Doesn't that young woman encountered by King Charlie during his escape
from Zembla have breasts resembling your favorite

Jansy Mello: What an
excellent memory you have. In fact, my seemingly absurd linkage of
 "montblanc" and "blancmange" must be related to some strange metonymic
processes that have been active in VN's "Pale Fire" (I mean:
mountain=breast). Not only Shade's White Fountain, the Lady's White
Mountain and Mont Blanc are related (as quoted in previous
postings) but, following Kinbote: "Zemblan mountain girls are as a rule mere mechanisms of haphazard lust, and Garh
was no exception. As soon as she had settled beside him, she bent over and
pulled over and off her tousled head the thick gray sweater, revealing her naked
back and blancmangé breasts, and flooded her embarrassed companion with
all the acridity of ungroomed womanhood." The progression of
references equally inspired quotes from "Dear Bunny, dear Volodya" about
the Jungfrau (wonderful historical research, Anthony Stadlen*) and
the American "Tetons." Amazing.
In TOoL fountains are erections
and the same word is also used (elsewhere) to indicate mountains
(or Jungfrau or Teton breasts) and
In Portuguese (also in Spanish and in Basque) "sapo"
initially indicated a specific kind of toad ( Bufo bufo, from theAnura order and Bufonidae family),
but the etymology of the word has been lost.  In all our fairy-tales
"sapo" refers to the toad. There's certainly no relation to Sappho (inspite
of the alluring breasts which emerged in the associations linked to VN). 
You exemplified your secondary employ of frog (i.e:questions)
after the direct reference to the insult addressed at the French. You
number (2) frog is most interesting: what links the English
linguist in Nice and the theme of seagulls/cigales in connection
to La Fontaine's fable about the "La Cigale et la Fourmi."  Aside from
the obvious mention of "cigales," there's a veiled protuberance (CK's
notes on Queen Victoria's shrouded unicorn) and, of course, the equally
subreptitions emergent "fountain" in the fabulist's name (La Fontaine,
Lafontaine: The Fountain), who Kinbote's contradicts with his quip about "dead the mandible, alive the song," since in the original
fable the individual cicada dies together with the immortal
song of its species, while the busy silent ant lives

* A.Stadlen: "The bizarre
-- even Nabokovian -- thing is that some years ago, in an effort to identify the
young patient whom Freud mentions in his letters to Fliess, I
inspected hotel registers, cure-lists, etc. I also asked the staff and
proprietors of a number of Interlaken hotels whether I might view any
lavatories installed at the time in question from which one might, in however
contorted a position, observe the Jungfrau. These good people assured me
politely -- without any hint of a suggestion that my request was an odd one
-- that, in the late nineteenth century, while every hotel was built with
its best rooms facing the Jungfrau, the lavatories were all at the rear of the
building, thus affording no possibility whatever of glimpsing that
mountain. In the end, another historian of psychoanalysis (Peter Swales), after
much inconclusive research by both of us, identified the young patient
(Oskar Fellner) from an archive in Vienna".
A query concerning a recent quote from "Lolita":
"...glorious diamond peak upon peak, giant conifers,
le montagnard émigré in his bear skin glory..." Who
is HH(VN) indicating as a "montagnard émigré" from the perspective of a
childhood fascination?
** - btw: In a psychoanalytic session
"blancmangé breasts, mandibles, fountains, mountains, erections and a
Queen's veiled phallus" might be particularly meaningful. In literature we
have 'only words to play with' when the intention is to imitate a
truly psychoanalytic interpretation.  
As in the poet's words: But in the case/ Of my
white fountain what it did replace/ Perceptually was something that, I
felt,/Could be grasped only by whoever dwelt/ In the strange world where I was a mere stray. (curiously, Lacan describes the analyst's position as 
the "place of the dead" - but that's a different story

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