NABOKV-L post 0021002, Sat, 27 Nov 2010 13:02:17 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Mademoiselle's French
Ch. Five, "Speak, Memory"
"...and Mademoiselle is reading to us on the veranda...This is the time when Mademoiselle is at her very best...What a number of volumes she read through to us on that veranda! Her slender voice sped on and on, never weakening, without the slightest hitch or hesitation, an admirable reading machine wholly independent of her sick bronchial tubes....There she sat, distilling her reading voice from the still prison of her person...Mademoiselle never found out how potent had been the even flow of her voice...she seemed like a rock of grim permanence when compared to the ebb and flow of English governesses and Russian tutors passing through our large household...And, really, her French was so lovely! Ought one to have minded the shallowness of her culture, the bitterness of her temper, the banality of her mind, when that pearly language of hers purled and scintillated, as innocent of sense as the alliterative sins of Racine's pious verse?... something of her tongue's limpidity and luster has had a singularly bracing effect upon me...the nightingale voice which came from her elephantine body...She returned to Switzerland...Lausanne...
My enormous and morose Mademoiselle is all right on earth but impossible in eternity. Have I really salvaged her from fiction? ...I catch myself wondering whether, during the years I knew her. I had not kept utterly missing something in her that was far more she than her chins or her ways or even her French - something perhaps akin to that last glimpse of her, to the radiant deceit she had used in order to have me depart pleased with my own kindness, or to that swan whose agony was so much closer to artisti truth than a drooping dancer's pale arms; something, in short, that I could appreciate only after the things and beings that I had most loved in the secutiry of my childhood had been turned to ashes and shot through the heart. "

Was Mademoiselle, then, Swiss? Would her accent differ in significant ways from the French as it's spoken in France?
How about the French that is heard in Montreux? In Nabokov's everyday activities while engaged with "Pale Fire" would he predominantly speak Russian, French, English?
I'd be very thankful if someone in the List would care to answer these questions.

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