NABOKV-L post 0020743, Sun, 19 Sep 2010 22:24:01 -0300

Subject
[NABOKOV-L] Guido Cavalcanti's Ballatetta in retrospect (from Ada
onto Lolita, through T.S.Eliot)
Date
Body
In "Ada or Ardor" ( I,ch.3,pp.23/4) we find a sample of Aqua's ravings, particularly related to Guido Cavalcanti's "Ballatetta." Both Cavalcanti, and the other Guido, Guinizelli, recognized young Dante Alighieri's talents and accepted him as a member of the "Dolce stil nuovo" innaugurated by Guinizelli," a group of duecento poets studied by Rossetti, Eliot and Pound.
Guido Cavalcanti's "Little Ballad," as B.Boyd informs us*, was sent to his beloved a little before he died from malaria. Aqua's early death may have been prefigured by it. However, one mustn't forget that Cavalcanti's " Ballatetta" belabors on the theme of "exile," so close to Nabokov's (and to Kinbote's!) heart.

T.S.Eliot, in "Ash-Wednesday," begins his poem with a direct reference to the Ballatetta's first verse ( Perch'i' no spero di tornar giammai,/ballatetta, in Toscana..."
His verses , "Because I do not hope to turn again" ( to Tuscany and to life on earth, in Cavalcanti's case),find a strong resonance in "Pale Fire" - but in a totally different mood and timbre as those we hear echoing in "Lolita," and despite the apparent parody of Eliot's verses and cantos almost everywhere in VN **.

How strange - what kind of connection may exist between Aqua and Kinbote, Aqua and Shade, and even Aqua & Quilty? I cannot see it, at all.

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3.26-28: ballatetta . . . mente: Darkbloom: "fragmentation and distortion of a passage in a 'little ballad' by the Italian poet Guido Cavalcanti (1255-1300). The relevant lines are: 'you frightened and weak little voice that comes weeping from my woeful heart, go with my soul and that ditty, telling of a destroyed mind.'" From "Ballata" ("Perch' i' no spero di tornar giammai"), ll. 37-40: "Tu, voce sbigottita e deboletta / ch'esci piangendo de lo cor dolente, / coll'anima e con questo ballatetta / va' ragionando della strutta mente." The poet, far from Tuscany, and soon to die, sends his ballad to pay homage to his beloved. Notice that sbigottita echoes in Aqua's mind as spigotty (a pun on "spigot": cf. Ada/Ardeur 20, where sbigottita is deformed into gouttelette, "droplet"), and deboletta becomes diavoletta ("lively little imp," "young rascal," from diavolo, "devil"). Cavalcanti,Le Rime, ed. Guido Favati (Milan and Naples: Riccardi, 1957), 268-69; for Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation ("Ballata: In Exile at Sarzana"), see Rossetti, The Collected Works (London: Ellis and Elvey, 1901, II, 149-150).23.29-32: the guide will go on demonstrating . . . in Florence a silly pillar commemorating . . . the "elmo" that broke into leaf when they carried stone-heavy-dead St. Zeus by it through the gradual, gradual shade: Aqua's distorted recollection of the patter of a tour guide in Florence. B.Boyd, Ada Online.

** Cf.Appel's note 1 to page 299 (AL,p.448).


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