On Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 5:51 AM, Yigit Yavuz <yigit.yavuz@gmail.com> wrote:
Thank you, Barrie and Bedja.

I also personally asked these terms to the Nabokov biographer Andrea Pitzer and to
Rene Alladaye, the writer of the latest Pale Fire book. Mr. Alladaye also states that 
volant en arričre means "flying backwards". But curiously, the term also has the
meaning which was already given in the very same sentence: a heraldic insect. Please 
check the link given by Andrea Pitzer:

Would it be correct to say, then, that Nabokov only makes a repetition here: 
a heraldic butterfly is a winged insect; in other words, a  volant en arričre...

Very interesting.  I always thought it meant "flying backwards" (but why mention that?).  However, as that link says, it's the full heraldic term for a flying animal shown from above (that is, so its back is seen) with its wings spread.  Heraldic bees and butterflies are generally shown in this position.


So it's not a repetition; it's a specification of how the butterfly is depicted.  (True, all heraldic butterflies are depicted the same way, but I believe the rules requires that the position be specified.)

I'm also interested in "feuilles d'alarme".  I can't find this in Google Books except for uses that seem to be later than PF and to refer to alarm systems for buildings.  Did Nabokov make it up?  If so, is it amusing or connected to something in some way?

Jerry Friedman
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