NABOKV-L post 0027045, Tue, 7 Jun 2016 14:08:41 -0700

Subject
"Tossing Hair" MOTIF in ADA and THE ENCHANTER
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Perusing through the motifs on AdaOnline, I read Boyd’s annotations that referenced the motif “tossing hair [Ada]”:

42.27: They went back to the corridor, she tossing her hair, he clearing his throat.

50.08-09: the self-conscious way she tossed back her hair [Merriam-Webster defines self-conscious as “intensely aware of oneself”]

120.26: her hair-shaking head: Ada tosses her hair when self-conscious (cf. 50.08-09).

189.26-27: tossing her head in a way she had when nervous or displeased

227.32-33: brushing away with rosy knuckles of her white hand the black-bronze hair from her temple:

298.05: jacket, standing with her hands behind her back, slightly rocking her shoulders, leaning her back now closer now less closely against the tree trunk, and tossing her hair

585.10: “Yes,” said Ada (aged eleven and a great hair-tosser)

Then I recalled that Nabokov wrote in The Enchanter then when the nymphet gave a "vigorous toss" to "her brown curls", she was displaying “flirtatiousness”, (p. 51).

I knew from Neil Strauss’ New York Times Best Seller The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists that “tossing hair” is considered an Indicator of Interest (IOI).

“As we talked, she held eye contact with me. She played with her hair. She looked for excuses to touch my arm. She leaned in when I leaned back. All the IOIs were there.” (p. 298)

Clearly, the pickup artists featured in The Game weren’t the first to associate hair fondling with seduction and Nabokov probably wasn’t the first to associate tossing hair with “flirtatiousness”. But what could have been Nabokov’s source(s) and is the “tossing hair” motif used in Nabokov’s other works?

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