Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023539, Fri, 28 Dec 2012 02:54:11 -0200

{SIGHTING] Adjectival Nabokov & style
Laurence Hochard replies to JM's quotes related to equivocal naked arms #: "Very interesting ...: it shows how a unique matrix in VN's imagination could spawn a whole family of images!". His observation about a "unique matrix" in VN's fecund imagination spurred me on towards another set of arms and elbows, now turned into wings by the act of clasping a necklace:"Martha threw off her orange peignoir, and as she drew back her elbows to adjust a necklace her angelically lovely bare shoulder blades came together like folding wings." (King Queen Knave; Collins Collector's Choice, 767).

To my surprise, while searching for quotes, I discovered that Quilty's ascent of a slope is comically bow-legged:.
There was a momentary flurry - he saw me, and throwing away his racket - mine - scuttled up the slope. He waved his wrists and elbows in a would-be comical imitation of rudimentary wings, as he climbed, bow-legged, to the street, where his gray car awaited him. Next moment he and the grayness were gone.(Lolita, part II, ch.20)

Later on, a similar wing-related image, is used in a positive metamorphosis - from clown to angel: Sebastian Knight's parodies pass from the comic into "serious emotion.'a clown developing wings, an angel mimicking a tumbler pigeon' "(RLSK,91)

While I mused about Nabokov's employ of adjectives (elegancy*, curtal, ivorine), I came across an interesting kind of "sighting," obtained from the wiktionary, because the only quotations that were added in two of them to illustrate to their use, came from Vladimir Nabokov's ADA (the other mentions Robert Southey.)

The original wiktionary terms:
elegancy (plural elegancies)
Noun: Alternative form of elegance.
(humorous) A mock title."Your Elegancy ..." (Robert Southey).

curtal (plural curtals)
Noun:(historical) A variety of short-barrelled cannon.
(obsolete) A horse or other animal having a docked tail.
(music) An early type of bassoon.
Adjective: (comparative more curtal, superlative most curtal)
(obsolete) Of horses, having a docked tail.
(now rare) Physically shortened; short. [quotations ?]
(obsolete) Abridged, curtailed.

Ivorine: from Old French ivorin, ivoirin, from ivoire ("ivory"); later also from ivory +? -ine.
Adjective ivorine (comparative more ivorine, superlative most ivorine)
(obsolete) Made of ivory.
Resembling ivory; white, smooth. [quotations ?]
Noun ivorine (plural ivorines)
A type of man-made imitation ivory.

Here are the respective wiktionary quotations:

1969, Vladimir Nabokov, Ada or Ardor, Penguin 2011, p. 98:
she had loosened her hair and changed into the curtal frock of sunbright cotton that he was so fond of and had so ardently yearned to soil in the so recent past.
1969, Vladimir Nabokov, Ada or Ardor, Penguin 2011, p. 162:
All Van saw there of his new Ada were her ivorine thighs and haunches, and the very first time he clasped them she bade him, in the midst of his vigorous joy, to glance across her shoulder over the window ledge

Jansy Mello


# - Across the narrow courtyard, where the rain tinkled in the dark against some ash cans, windows were blandly alight, and in one of them a black-trousered man, with his hands clasped under his head and his elbows raised, could he seen lying supine on an untidy bed. (Symbols and Signs: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1948/05/15/1948_05_15_031_TNY_CARDS_000214135#ixzz2GFjoWgGA)
*She was more Ada than ever, but a dash of new elegancy had been added to her shy, wild charm

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/