Books: Drinker of Words

POEMS AND PROBLEMS by Vladimir Nabokov. 218 pages. McGraw-Hill. $7.95.

The air is refreshing, humid and sweet, How good the caprifoli smells!

—Vladimir Nabokov

Caprifole is a lovely word. If anything it is a shade too lovely, something to be tasted, rolled over the tongue, chewed lightly, savored and then, perhaps, not swallowed but spit discreetly into a tub of clean shavings. But what does it mean? The first dictionary to come to hand, an old Webster's, does not list caprifole at all. The unabridged Random House mentions only "caprifoliaceous: belonging to the Caprifoliaceae, a...

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