NABOKV-L post 0021087, Fri, 24 Dec 2010 00:46:37 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] Peterson's Grouse, commedia fakes, scientific names...
Dear List,

There were various intriguing items in the Wikipedia when I clicked a search for Ada's Latin name for "Peterson's grouse."

'Might I have another helping of Peterson's Grouse, Tetrastes bonasia windriverensis?' asked Ada loftily.
( Darkbloom registers in his notes: Tetrastes etc.: Latin name of the imaginary 'Peterson's Grouse' from Wind River Range, Wyo.)

I discovered that there's a book, "Birds of the World - current valid scientific avian names," written by Alan P. Peterson, that served as a reference for the avian "Bonasa/Tetrastes." Would Nabokov have read it, and why did he give a special place to it in ADA? There are two other intriguing elements in this "grouse" chapter : a reference to "knees", the other to "fakery".

Before Ada demands a second helping of the special dish, we read: "Ada returned to her seat. Van picked up her napkin from under her chair and in the course of his brief plunge and ascent brushed the side of her knee with his temple." In the sentence that follows Ada's request, there's a cow-bell** jangled by Marina to call in the butler. However this bell "was merely one of those sweet-sounding translations which reveal a paraphrast's crass counterfeit as soon as you look up the original." (the original bell relates to Dr.Lapiner, and to baby Van).

When the name Peterson is mentioned again, a knee-cap also enters the scene, now to save Van from an inconvenient seminal emission: "no furtive fiction could compete with what awaited him in Ada's bower. A twinge in his kneecap also came to the rescue, and honest Van chided himself for having attempted to use a little pauper instead of the princess in the fairy tale - 'whose precious flesh must not blush with the impression of a chastising hand,' says Pierrot in Peterson's version."

Perhaps there is something related to fakeries, pointing backwards on a blank page, moving from Ada onto Pale Fire? Pheasant, grouse, winter, China and Hazel are elements that appear when we search for "Bonasa" and they are also to be found in "Pale Fire":
"whose spurred feet have crossed/ From left to right the blank page of the road?/ Reading from left to right in winter’s code:... A pheasant’s feet!/ Torquated beauty, sublimated grouse,/ Finding your China right behind my house." ***
What fakery is announced by Shade's "torquated beauty" (a Hazel grouse?) and Ada's second helping which became an incongruous saucisson (and the erotic mirroring by Ada and her father while eating asparragus? ), or Peterson's version of Pierrot's words?

* - Wiki: Bonasa (Tetrastes - Keyserling & J. H. Blasius, 1840).
Bonasa is a genus of birds in the grouse subfamily. It contains three species: Hazel Grouse( Bonasa bonasia), Severtzov's Grouse( Bonasa sewerzowi), Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus).
All three live in forests with at least some conifers in cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The two Old World species, the Hazel Grouse of northern Eurasia and Severtzov's Grouse of mountains in central China, are particularly closely related and are sometimes separated as a genus Tetrastes. The Ruffed Grouse lives in the northern United States and southern Canada.

** Bonasa is derived from bonasus, Latin for the European Bison, from Ancient Greek bonasos (βονασος), apparently because the drumming sounds these birds make were thought to resemble the bellowing of bovines (wiki). Marina's cow-bell is not an innocent detail, if it rings for more "bonasa"...
***I also found images of grouses described as: Chinese Grouse, Severtzov's Hazel Grouse, Chinese Hazel Grouse, Severtsov's Grouse, Sewerzow's Grouse, Black-breasted Hazel Grouse.

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