Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024892, Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:51:34 -0200

Fw: [NABOKV-L] cicadas & grasshoppers and an un-Jiminy cricket:
Carolyn Kunin: "... the title of the story in English was "The Grasshopper." At least so it was in our text book. It sounds like it should mean a grasshopper (prigat'/prignut' means to jump or hop I think).[ ] just today learned that Dicken's story The Cricket on the Hearth is, along with his much more famous A Christmas Carol, a Christmas story. Just in time!

Jansy Mello: Mankind is "artistically caged" and crickets in the fall provide an impenetrable "wall of sound"*
Kinbote begins his associations related to Shade's verses about his lack of talent in sports mentioning the popular cricket game. In this same note he writes that, in Zembla's quiet summer night, a cricket was heard just before the emprisonned King's mind suffered a "conflagration" caused by the bright gleam on a key in a closet door lock **.
Another lonely cricket, in a different October night, makes sounds that cannot spare Hazel's fright while on her way home from the barn***.
Years later, there's Shade's heart attack that also happened in October, coincided with the arrival of Charles, the Beloved's when he parachuted in America "amid an ovation of crickets" #

Shade and Kinbote seemed to be alert to the difference between locusts, grasshoppers and cicadas, but their references to crickets apparently leaves these insects out of this line of associations
It seems that the appearance of a cricket is not as harmless as it sounds but are they a sign of guilt feelings? I don't think so.##
In the competition between L.Hunt and J. Keats, grasshoppers are associated to summer warmth and crickets to early winter domestic fires. I gather that individually they don't survive through the winter - except their brood that lie in wait of Spring, as it's also the case of certain cicadas. I think it was Gary Lipon who connected cicadas to Hazel's biological birth and to her death###.


* - 110 In a bright sky above a mountain range
One opal cloudlet in an oval form
Reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm
Which in a distant valley has been staged —
For we are most artistically caged.

And there’s the wall of sound: the nightly wall
Raised by a trillion crickets in the fall.
Impenetrable! Halfway up the hill
I’d pause in thrall of their delirious trill.

** CK notes to line 130 : "Frankly I too never excelled in soccer and cricket; I am a passable horseman, a vigorous though unorthodox skier, a good skater, a tricky wrestler, and an enthusiastic rock-climber.[ ]"... The summer night was starless and stirless...The King yawned...Above the closet, Iris Acht squared her shoulders and looked away. A cricket cricked. The bedside light was just strong enough to put a bright gleam on the gilt key in the lock of the closet door. And all at once that spark on that key caused a wonderful conflagration to spread in the prisoner’s mind.// We shall now go back from mid-August 1958 ..."

*** - CK note to line 347: A familiar footpath with soothing gestures and other small tokens of consolation (lone cricket, lone streetlight) led her home. She stopped and let forth a howl of terror [ ] I have no idea what the average temperature of an October night in New Wye may be...

# - CK notes to line 691: John Shade’s heart attack (Oct. 17, 1958) practically coincided with the disguised king’s arrival in America [ ] Fain would I elucidate this business of parachuting but (it being a matter of mere sentimental tradition rather than a useful manner of transportation) this is not strictly necessary in these notes to Pale Fire. [ ] I relaxed on a shooting stick he had supplied me with, sipping a delightful Scotch and water from the car bar and glancing (amid an ovation of crickets and that vortex of yellow and maroon butterflies that so pleased Chateaubriand on his arrival in America) at an article in The New York Times in which Sylvia had vigorously and messily marked out in red pencil a communication from New Wye which told of the "distinguished poet’s" hospitalization

## - Carolyn Kunin mentioned Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket (euphemism for the exclamation: "Jesus Christ"), in his movie version of Pinocchio's polite conscience. In the original work, by Collodi, "Gepetto isn't a kindly old man — he's hot-tempered and grindingly poor. There is a talking cricket, but it's not named Jiminy, doesn't wear a top hat, and gets squished by Pinocchio 12 pages in when it tries to give him advice. This lack of sentimentality runs through the book, whose sense of reality reflects the harshness of life in Collodi's Tuscany. This is a place driven by hunger, brutality, greed and social. injustice" .http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101413512

### - Since the point now is broadening our crickety horizons, I remembered the competition bt. Leigh Hunt and John Keats. I retrieved it from the internet to share with you all.
On December 30, 1816, John Keats and Leigh Hunt challenged each other to write a sonnet on the subject of "the grasshopper and cricket." They wrote these two characteristic sonnets in fifteen minutes. Who won?


On the Grasshopper and Cricket
John Keats

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper's--he takes the lead
In summer luxury,--he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills. To the Grasshopper and the Cricket
Leigh Hunt

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
When even the bees lag at the summoning brass;
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
With those who think the candles come too soon,
Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
Oh sweet and tiny cousins, that belong
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth
To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song:
Indoors and out, summer and winter,--Mirth.

btw: In oriental folklore cicadas are linked to rebirth and to transience (cf.wiki on "cicada").


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