Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023762, Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:14:40 -0700

Habemus Papa
Pope Francis I - and a Jesuit. One might call VN jesuitical (and I'm sure his
friend Wilson, whose wife Mary McCarthy was extremely Catholic, was tempted to
call him just that). Then there is Charles I of Zembla, with his middle name
Xavier to John Shade's Francis, referring to one of the first Jesuits.* This is
another clue that Kinbote and Shade are in fact one person.

I also recall the day when Professor Alexander Isachenko (formerly a famous
Czech personality of stage and radio) told us about various popes of this
village and that. Shy undergraduate that I was (the UCLA class was attended by
both grads and undergrads) I finally raised my hand to ask how there could have
been quite so many popes running around a small area of eastern Europe.
Isachenko laughed and said that of course he meant 'priests' not popes - in
Slavic languages, at least in Czech, the word is the same for both I guess.

Another 'Slavic' touch - I heard that a chaika (seagull) had perched on the
chimney at the Vatican and was "the most watched seagull in history" which was
very likely true.


p.s. A rather odd joke that I recall: What do you call an abortion in
Czechoslovakia? A cancelled Czech.

* And if Francis Xavier is in fact the man Pope Francis is honoring with his
name, the timing couldn’t be much better. The day before Pope Francis' election
was the final day of the Novena of Grace, a nine-day prayer that leads up to the
anniversary of the canonization of Francis Xavier in 1622."He finished the
Novena of Grace yesterday, and he chose St. Francis because of it," joked Father

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