JansyM: I wasn’t blaming VN for your creative* Ramsdale conjecture!

* Compare: Creative Accounting.

I’m not even denying VN his wonderfully amusing word-games, anagrams, and teasing puns. I’m saying that none of these childlike trivia makes a significant contribution to his enduring reputation as a narratival and stylistic humourist of genius.

The latter involves building plots/situations/characters at many ‘comedic’ levels. It transcends, but may usefully exploit, word-play, puns, allusive names (funny and serious!), and telling jokes in the traditional style (“Have you heard the one about ... “)

>However jokes and puns seldom if ever rely on established etymologies. JM

Ramsdale is neither joke nor pun. Is it even a deliberately planted allusion seeking our spade work? (I meantersay, whatever name you pick for a town (or person), it’s going to have some semantic ripples.) Only VN/God knows! He was fond of disowning the allusion-hunters’ finds. But, absolutely no fatal harm in assuming Ramsdale holds some intended relevance to the plot; in fact, harmless fun if time permits. It turns out that Ramsdale is an existing place-name of Anglo-Saxon origin, with many name-alike toponyms world wide.

Pace Jansy, the first things to check are indeed the etymologies. Not just (Rams + Dale) but the place names Ramsdale and Rams-xxxx. We get three plausibly fructuose links: RAM=randy-animal; RAVEN [hraefn] =Edgar Allan Poe?!; GARLIC [hramsa] =vampires.  
If these don’t grab you, try the anagrams: Mal de Ars; Les Drama; Le Madras.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 08/09/2011 02:48, "Jansy" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

Stan LIOB:..."Jansy’s analysis of Ramsdale relies on over-literal readings (ram -> animal -> rape), confirming my conviction that VN’s wordplay is a trivial and often misleading diversion, diluting his true, inimitable genius...Can you see how word-misplay, merely matching surface letters, such as r-a-m, can lead one astray?"
JM: Don't blame Nabokov for the conjecture I ventured in relation to his choice for "Ramsdale". In many other instances I can agree with your accessment, despite S.Karlinski's observations about Russian punning, countering E. Wilson's criticism. However jokes and puns seldom if ever rely on established etymologies. I was happier when musing about Isaiah's "the crooked made straight and the rough places plain," by Kinbote to Shade's "web of sense." and the changes popular sayings suffer when they travel from one culture to another   
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