Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023687, Tue, 19 Feb 2013 20:32:54 -0300

Loose connections...werewolves and wergeld
Sandy Pallot Klein sends http://www.upperleftedge.com/2013/02/16/dmitris-father/... The main lecture room in Goldwin-Smith Hall on the Cornell University Arts quadrangle ...
Jansy Mello: Being unfamiliar with the Arts quadrangle in Cornell, the slight connection between "Goldwin-Smith Hall" and Pale Fire's Judge Goldsworth and Wordsmith College failed me until now...Did Charles Kinbote invent Judge Goldsworth? What other "Goldsworth" could Shade have intended to include in his poem? There's no other authority, beside CK's, that this character existed, or the anedoctes that might explain his murder motivated by a Zemblan "raghdirst."

Jansy Mello: Shade mentioned the name Goldsworth in the same stride as Wordsmith and every explanation related to " Judge Goldsworth" (a person) derives from Kinbote's commentary about his hypothetical landlord, a judge with wife, cat and "alphabetic daughters."

While wondering about Shade's use of "Goldsworth," I played with the inverted "Worthgolds". The sound and the price in gold reminded me of "Wergeld" (i.e: Kinboot, -bute, -bot), according to a few December 2006 VN-L postings:

1. Carolyn Kunin noted that "the word 'kinbote' like the word 'versipel' is too unusual to be a happenstance. Neither word appears in the OED, yet both are found in Webster's 3rd edition. Their usage by VN is very calculated."

2. A.Bouazza informed that "Both 'kinbote' and the adjective 'versipellous' are to be found in the OED:
Kinboot, -bute, -bot. A wergeld or man-boot paid by a homicide to the kin of the person slain.
Versipellous. Having the faculty of changing the skin.The above has, of course, been pointed out long before and Brian Boyd discusses the word in that meaning in his VN: AM. As I always understood it, Kinbote in his role as commentator and "publisher" of "Pale Fire" the poem is the "wergeld" in relation to the slain Shade.

The two words were brought together for their rarity. And, actually, Shade's versipel (an inversion of the skin as it is described for werewolves? ) hides the sound of "were" (man) that appears somehow strangely linked to both kinboot and versipel, in a connection that's as loose as were the initial transformations of Goldsworth into wergeld. That's what I got from doubting Kinbote's words...

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