A Letter from Brian Boyd

to the Editor

Thank you so much for sending me Krug 2, and especially for the Annotations to Ada.

I had read about your circle on Nabokv-L, and am delighted now to see what you have found. I had begun publishing the notes in The Nabokovian piecemeal precisely in order to prompt others to fill the gaps, and I am most gratified to see the Kyoto Reading Circle taking on the challenge.

I can understand what you mean by your fears that readers will get drowned in my notes. Ideally I would like my annotations to appear as hypertext, so that readers can consult notes only as they wish, and need only dip their toes in a clear little note unless they want to dive into deeper waters. Ideally, too, access to annotations that reveal details later in the book would be barred to readers until they can answer a couple of short questions that only rereaders could know.

I was particularly delighted to see that I missed jokes that were staring me in the face, like Capability Brown in the "capable landscape capably skimming by." It is not as if Nabokov hasn't signaled the joke, and yet it passed me by on so many readings. Who else can hide a joke right under your nose for so long?

Your notes prompt further discoveries too. You juxtapose "John Ray, Jr" and "Ronald Oranger," which makes apparent at once that the editors with names containing "OHN RAY JR" and "ORANGER" must be related. So too, are "John Ray, Jr" as the editor of the original Lolita and "Alfred Appel, Jr" as editor of The Annotated Lolita (Nabokov began to help Appel with the Annotations in 1967). The sound of "John Ray, Jr" and the sense of "Appel" (as "apple") hybridize or cross species into "Oranger," and the J_R-Jr and A_A repetitions yield "Ronald Oranger." There may well, of course, also be something quite different behind the name!

Just a few comments:10.9: cannot be nationality, which would be "Scot" rather than "Scott."12.3: the lovely loss: only the loss of "missed a beat" (pun on "miss" and "lose").

12.7: Baron O: an authorial mistake for "Baron d'O" (see my Nabokov Studies 2 article on Lolita, pp. 69-70, for a full discussion). I wish I could read the rest of the journal.

I look forward to your future annotations. May you all continue to enjoy your monthly sessions! I especially look forward, of course, to the point when your notes start to outrun mine: then I can borrow from you.

With best wishes,

Brian Boyd

Published in KRUG 2. 1 (November 2000)

All Rights Reserved.

Return to the index page of annotations to Ada