Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023738, Tue, 5 Mar 2013 13:21:53 -0300

Re: Pnin's own Vladimir?--"delire"
Stan Kelly-Bootle: If Maxim Shrayer's quote: ("she suffered a miscarriage and died the next night, deliring and praying") is from VN-verbatim, we can assume that he is either teasing us with 'borrowed' Latin/French, or, perish the heresy, that VN was unaware of the now archaic verb "to delirate" reported in Samuel Johnson's 'Dictionary of the English Language' (1755):
Abdel Bouazza: VN's favourite was Webster's Second. W III got rid of all those obsolete words that we encounter in his oeuvre. The 1828 & 1913 Webster that is available online does not include the obsolete "delire", but the OED does, not the digital version but the hefty tomes I have in my library. Delire. v. Obs. To be delirious or mad, to rave. In this sense, the first and last instances cited by the OED are from the 17th century; the latter is dated 1675 from R. Burthogge's Causa Dei, 196: He delires, and is out of his Wits, that would preferr it [moonlight] before the Sun by Day.
Steve Blackwell: I just checked, "delire" is not in Webster's 2nd International. I did find an instance of it in a Thackeray ballad, "Mrs. Katherine's Lantern", at
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2732/2732-h/2732-h.htm - It hosts a tempting conjunction of "delires" and "dolores", but the ballad as a whole seems unlikely to have grabbed VN's attention. It appears to be a very weak bit of verse. On the other hand, his "Ballad of Longwood Glen" came out in ~1957, so who knows how extensively he might have read in the genre (does anybody read Thackeray's poetry?). I do not know when "Perfection" was translated.

Jansy Mello: After AB's clarification and SB's contributions I concluded that Nabokov's double-checked choice of "deliring" (the translation from the Russian resulted from the collaboration of DN with VN) was not a consequence of his being "unaware of the now archaic verb..." since the indications direct us to a deliberate choice of archaic terms. However, in my opinion, VN was not using "deliring" as "a tease with borrowed Latin/French." Wikipedia informs that Webster's is an "American Dictionary of the English Language"* whereas the OED is British.** However mysterious, Nabokov's deliberations led him away from American tradition (Webster's III "got rid of... obsolete words") and, perhaps, reaffirmed his bonds with his past (the English and French he spoke as a child, the English he practiced at Oxford, perhaps even the German he had to exercise while living in Berlin). It simplifies matters to say that Nabokov was "multilingual" or a "poliglot": but, who knows, there might be some sort of archeological verbal artifacts to reconstitute...

*´wiki excerpts: Noah WebsterNoah Webster (1758-1843), the author of the readers and spelling books that dominated the American market at the time, spent decades of research in compiling his dictionaries. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, appeared in 1806. In it, he introduced features that would be a hallmark of future editions such as American spellings (center rather than centre, honor rather than honour,program rather than programme, etc.) and included technical terms from the arts and sciences rather than confining his dictionary to literary words. He spent the next two decades working to expand his dictionary.
** wiki excerpts: The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language.[2] Work began on the dictionary in 1857[3]:103-4,112 but it was not until 1884 that it started to be published in unboundfascicles as work continued on the project under the name A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society.[4]:169 In 1895, the title The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used[5]unofficially on the covers of the series and in 1928 the full dictionary was republished in ten bound volumes. In 1933, it fully replaced the name in all occurrences to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in its reprinting as twelve volumes with a one volume supplement[5]and more supplements came over the years until in 1989 when the second edition was published in twenty volumes.[5] As of 24 March 2011, the editors had completed the third edition from M to Ryvita. With descriptions for approximately 600,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the world's most comprehensive single-language print dictionary according to the Guinness Book of World Records.[citation needed]
The first electronic version of the dictionary was made available in 1988. The online version has been available since 2000, and as of August 2010 was receiving two million hits per month from paying subscribers. The chief executive of Oxford University Press, Nigel Portwood, feels it unlikely that the third edition will ever be printed.[6]

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