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Mary, p. 60: local color

November 7, 2009

Ganin’s memories of Mary include her carrying “Landrin’s caramels loose in her pocket,” wearing a “cheap, sweet perfume called ‘Tagore,'” and wearing a bow in her hair that looked “in flight like a huge Camberwell Beauty.” Noting these references:  the Landrin Confectionary Co. was established in 1848 in St. Petersburg and, according to the Landrin website (http://www.landrin.ru/2007/pages.php/fabric/en) “at one time was among the only two confectionary brands to be served to His Imperial Highness, the Russian Emperor.”

I have not been able to track down a perfume called “Tagore,” but the reference is doubtless to the Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), whose mystical poetry contains numerous images of scented and perfumed air.

The Camberwell Beauty is, of course, a butterfly (“Nymphalis antiopa”), native to Eurasia and North America; it is also called the Mourning Cloak in North America, and can be recognized by the white or light borders and more darkly colored spots on its large wings (see photo).  One of N’s earliest butterfly references.

Nymphalis antiopa (Camberwell Beauty or Mourning Cloak)

Nymphalis antiopa (Camberwell Beauty or Mourning Cloak)

 

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