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Mary, p. 73: a cold little worm

November 29, 2009

During their reunion in the public park near the small town in which Mary currently lives, the lovers converse, “in rapturous murmur,” about “the long time they  had not seen each other, about the resemblance of a gloworm that shone in the moss to a tiny semaphore.”  Later, after their failed tryst, Mary “stooped over the grass and picked up one of the pale green lampyrids they had noticed.  She held it upon the flat of her hand, bending over it, examining it closely, then burst out laughing and said in a quaint parody of a village lass, ‘Bless me, if it isn’t simply a cold little worm.'”  Nabokov’s phallic punning here may be overly obvious; Ganin is the “cold little worm” who has been sending the wrong signals, unable to consummate his idealized romance in the “real world” of the public park.

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