Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023423, Mon, 22 Oct 2012 20:46:36 -0200

A Jekyll and Hyde Vanessa butterfly

Brian Boyd "Nabokov's Pale Fire The Magic of Artistic Discovery:"
p.145: "The discovery of Hazel's susrvival transforms our view of Pale Fire and the problems it poses [ ]Yet it does raise a new problem -and suggests a new solution [ ]"Once or twice before," writes Kinbote, "we had already noticed the same individual, at that same time, on that same spot [ }By appearing there on previous occasions, Hazel as Vanessa has given Shade the key to completing his poem, by fading into the evening, by overtly echoing in the red bar of the butterfly's wing the read streak on a waxwing, by allowing him to imply an order concealed behind chance..."
p. 153: "Why shosuld Hazel help Kinbote to develop his wistful wish-fulfillment world of Zembla? Presumably she takes note of him because he has moved next door to her father...[ ] compels him to tell his story to Shade, offering Hazel a kind of indirect but ultimately very fruitful communication with her father..."
p. 165 "If we remember Hazel as Vanessa atalanta, as Red Admirable, seems now, beyond death, to have lost her fateful physical resemblance to her father and somehow take after her mother..."
p. 171: "Shade names the person who spurned Hazel on the night of her death 'Pete Dean.' Now that she is a Vanessa atalanta, Hazel seems to find another 'Dean,' who spurns women equally, who identifies with Dean Switft, who twists words as both she and Swift do [ ]
Unfortunately I couldn't find the precise spot where Brian Boyd refers to Hazel's emergence as a Vanessa butterfly, tenderly warning her father off the lane. Anyway, perhaps the previous citations will suffice by demonstrating how positively Hazel, as a Red Admirable, takes part in her father's life and sudden death.

What puzzles me is the emergence of the same butterfly "volant en arrière" close to Gradus and, later, caricatured in the killer's tie*.
In my eyes Gradus is as much implicated in the Red Admiral (the butterfly of doom) as, on the sunny side, Hazel is.

Here are some queries that were extracted from the VN-L Archives: connected to Gradus's tie.
"It's interesting, but characteristic of the Pale Fire universe, that the colors and markings of Gradus's tie should match the color and markings of the Vanessa atalanta" ( Andrew Brown, 11 Aug. 2006)

"It would not have been necessary to press my point concerning the link bt. the tie Gradus wore and the Vanessa Butterfly offering you images of bow-ties and falters. Kinbote mentions this link explicitly in one of the entries in his Index - but although the connection is highly probable, I cannot be absolutely certain that it lies in his reference [to the] the tie (Vanessa: "caricatured"). Please, check letter "V" under Vanessa." (Jansy Mello 12 Aug 2006)

"At the end of PF we find Gradus wearing a "red admirable" tie (its dark underside wing and its red bend sinister stripe), beside the actual butterfly. Multiple butterflies: real, unreal, imaginary, allegorical? Why would Gradus be wearing such a tie? Nobody answered it but the mistery remains, at least for me: why would Gradus wear a Red Vanessa tie? (Jansy Mello, January 1,2007)

Now, we come to Dieter Zimmer's observations in his commentary to Fahles Feuer: Anmerkungen 342.22 Schlips] Das Muster der Krawatte entspricht der Musterung und Färbung des Admiralfalters Vanessa atalanta. S.Anm. 50 Vers 170-271].Rowohlt, March 2008.("The pattern from the tie corresponds to the patterning and color of the Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta").

I'll close this query about this "Jekyll and Hyde" kind of insect (!) by quoting Shade's lines about Sybil:

Pale Fire, lines 269-271: Come and be worshiped, come and be caressed,
My dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest
My Admirable butterfly!

* CK, note to line 408 and to line 949: "From far below mounted the clink and tinkle of distant masonry work, and a sudden train passed between gardens, and a heraldic butterfly volant en arrière, sable, a bend gules, traversed the stone parapet, and John Shade took a fresh card."
" We can at last describe his tie, an Easter gift from a dressy butcher, his brother-in-law in Onhava: imitation silk, color chocolate brown, barred with red, the end tucked into the shirt between the second and third buttons, a Zemblan fashion of the nineteen thirties "

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