NABOKV-L post 0022183, Fri, 18 Nov 2011 14:02:27 -0200

[old SIGHTINGS] ...and hoity-toitiy
During google-search directed towards references joining "Borges and Nabokov," I reached three old "sightings" - which I thought might interest the List. (see below).
One of them, Ben Yagoda's in The New Yorker, led me to Nabokov's ADA simply to gratify a whim related to his use of "the hoity-toity boarding school," because it brought to my mind Aqua's opening sentence in her farewell letter to husband and son*. ( Aqua still hides many secrets from me)

Hoity-toity's standard meaning (pretentious, show off**), as found in Nabokov's Speak,Memory***, apparently indicates something other than simply Aqua's crazy multilingual word-plays (from the French-aujourd'hui; the English-today and the German Heute), since "toity", in her final message, is echoed in "toy" (and then it moves towards "joy") and it reappers in "Estoty" or in "estoic": "esthetically, ecstatically, Estoitially..." as well.

Here are the "sightings":
1. The New Yorker reached into many of our lives in many ways. I remember a couple myself. There was a New Yorker scandal at the hoity-toity boarding school I went to in the fifties. For our finals in English Literature, we seniors were given five or ten of the Newsbreaks, along with sarcastic comment. We were asked to explain the humor of the piece, and the reason for the comment. I can remember hearing sighs and boos in the examination room because we knew we were victims of our English teachers' obsession with a magazine which, as of yet, we didn't care for (except the cartoons, and perhaps the stories by Salinger, which we felt were written for us). Like most of the writers of my generation, I knew the only place worth being published in America was at 25 West 43th Street. Over the years, I probably collected fifty rejection slips from them. When one came in the mail, there would be no anger, but, rather, an assumption that I had not yet reached that place, the place where I was good enough to appear in the same pages as O'Hara, Shaw, Cheever, A. J. Liebling or Vladimir Nabokov. In other words, we writers would criticise our own art, never the standards of the New Yorker.
Ben Yagoda
The New Yorker, Ben Yagoda, About Town

2. Aliens, aliases, and alibis: Alfau's 'Locos' as a metaphysical detective story ",+aliases,+and+alibis%3A+Alfau's+'Locos'+as+a+metaphysical...-a013663065">Aliens, aliases, and alibis: Alfau's 'Locos' as a metaphysical detective story.
Felipe Alfau, who began writing in English as a Spanish emigre to America, can now take,his proper place in this assembly. Alfau's case provokes similar questions about his classification within the canon: Is he a Spanish writer? an American writer? a hyphenated hybrid? Or perhaps, like Borges, Nabokov, and O'Brien, he is a different entity altogether, one of "the new |esperantists'" - twentieth-century writers whose fiction is shaped by their sense of linguistic and cultural exile....The works of emigre authors are often obsessively autobiographical and "often accused of being repetitious repetitious Asher Z. Milbauer argues, because they attempt to establish an equilibrium "between the |now' and the |then,' between the |before' and the |after'"- and, one might add, between the "here" and the "there." Alfau's novels certainly seek such equilibrium. Each is a dazzling series of mises en abyme, in which Madrilenos are situated in Toledo and Spaniards in America...
Alfau is an important early postmodernist, in part, because he anticipates what McCarthy calls "the modernist novel as detective story detective story {inset::detective story - Type of popular literature dealing with the step-by-step investigation and solution of a crime, usually murder. " or the metaphysical detective story - a genre that is typical of literary postmodernism in its concern with parody, intertextuality Intertextuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can refer to an author's borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader's referencing of one text in reading another. , self-reflexivity, and hermeneutics. A metaphysical detective story is a self-reflexive fiction which parodies detective-story conventions, especially in terms of narrative closure and the detective's role as surrogate reader. Rather than successfully solving a mystery, the detective confronts the insoluble mysteries of his own interpretation and his own identity; Patricia Merivale defines "a real metaphysical detective story," for example, as one in which the hero "becomes, by |accident'or by |destiny,' the murderer he has been seeking."(6) Although Edgar Allan Poe and G. K. Chesterton are important influences, this experimental, open-ended, self-reflexive genre is usually identified with fiction produced in the thirties and forties by Nabokov (The Eye, Despair, and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight) and Borges ("The Garden of Forking Paths" and "Death and the Compass "Death and the Compass" (original Spanish title: "La muerte y la brújula") is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. Published in Sur in May 1942, it was included in the 1944 collection Ficciones. "), as Merivale argues in her comparative essay. The genre is also illustrated by O'Brien's contemporaneous novels (for example, At Swim-Two-Birds At Swim-Two-Birds is a novel by Irish novelist Flann O'Brien (one pen-name of Brian O'Nolan) published in 1939. It is widely considered O'Brien's masterpiece and one of the most sophisticated examples of metafiction. and The Third Policeman). Alfau's Locos, however, anticipates these works - and thus the development of the metaphysical detective story - by at least two years.Like Borges, Nabokov, and O'Brien, Alfau apparently seized upon the detective story as a means to conflate different genres and cultures, to express his sense of temporal and spatial exile, and to reflect his own search for an independent identity. His first novel, Locos, is actually a series of interlocking metaphysical detective stories which boast a variety of crimes, criminals, and police officers' frequent allusions to Sherlock Holmes, and an ongoing parody of "official" solutions to the question of human identity. In particular, Alfau turns the detective story into a meditation on the nature of identity, especially as it is constructed by language: by a character's name, on the one hand, and by the papers that testify to his existence, on the other...Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved. Aliens, aliases, and alibis: Alfau's 'Locos' as a metaphysical > ... > March 22, 1993

3. Nabokovs Ada: Inzest und Sprachspiel im Original und in der deutschen Übersetzung von Alexandra Berlina Literaturübersetzung, Neuere Germanistik Heinrich Heine-Universität: Anglistik II Abteilung für Amerika-Studien - Hauptseminar "Bruder und Schwester" Wintersemester 2005/2006

* - " Her last note, found on her and addressed to her husband and son, might have come from the sanest person on this or that earth.
Aujourd'hui (heute-toity!) I, this eye-rolling toy, have earned the psykitsch right to enjoy a landparty with Herr Doktor Sig, Nurse Joan the Terrible, and several 'patients,' in the neighboring bar ... [Signed] My sister's sister who teper' iz ada ('now is out of hell'). [Van comments]..'.I often think it would have been so much more plausible, esthetically, ecstatically, Estotially speaking - if she were really my mother.' "

** - Hoity-toity: Pretentiously self-important, haughty or pompous.
Origin: Many dictionaries also give a second meaning, that is, given to frivolity, silliness or riotousness. That was the original meaning of this term, but has now almost completely died out. Our view of what is hoity-toity now is defined by the 'looking down the nose' manner adopted by characters like Lady Bracknell, as performed by Dame Edith Evans, in the stage and film versions of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. These days we hardly expect to hear lager louts described as hoity-toity. The two meanings of the term aren't as far apart as it might seem though and one seems to have migrated from the other. The frivolousness/riotousness meaning was first recorded in Sir Roger L'Estrange's 1668 translation of The visions of Don Francisco de Quevedo Villegas:
"The Widows I observ'd ... Chanting and Jigging to every Tune they heard, and all upon the Hoyty-Toyty, like mad Wenches of Fifteen." The later meaning isn't seen until around mid to late 18th century and is recorded in O'Keefe's Fontainebleau in 1784: "My mother ... was a fine lady, all upon the hoity-toities, and so, good for nothing."As with many reduplicated phrases, one word carries an existing meaning and the other is present for emphasis. In this case the earlier meaning of the term came from the word hoit. This is a now defunct verb meaning to indulge in riotous, noisy mirth. That in turn was formed from hoyden - a boorish clown or rude boisterous girl. The change from one meaning to the other seems to be due to the pronunciation of hoity as heighty and the subsequent allusion to highness or haughtiness. Two 18th century dictionaries give intermediate forms: B.E's A new dictionary of the terms ancient and modern of the canting crew, circa 1700 - "Hightetity, a Ramp or Rude Girl." Francis Grose's A classical of the vulgar tongue, 1785 "Heighty toity, a hoydon, or romping girl."

***Following Brian Boyd's Annotations on line: 29.06: Aujourd'hui (heute-toity!): Darkbloom: "aujourd'hui, heute: to-day (Fr., Germ.)." At school, Nabokov too was accused of being "hoity-toity," "of 'showing off' (mainly by peppering my Russian papers with English and French terms, which came naturally to me)" (SM 185).

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