NABOKV-L post 0019025, Sat, 2 Jan 2010 12:09:25 -0200

TOoL: Brazilian translation
Post-Script: Nabokov's synesthesia. (to Dmitri and List)

After I posted the message about VN's colored words, and the excluded "reds", I realized something which I afterwards recollected has also been noted with a small delay by Boyd. In a preface, with the title "Nabokov's Blues - and His Drab-Shoelace Brown, and His Weathered-Wood Black," (Holabird's "Alphabet in Color") Boyd wrote: " Notice - I just have - that Violet and Oranger form the beginning and end of Ada's acrostic spelling of the spectrum: vibgyor."
( I found that simply because I had wanted to compare "vibgyor" with Nabokov's own "muddy rainbow" in his private language: "kzspygv"[ excerpt from Speak Memory in Holabird's book).].

Now I have something else I want to share related to translation, TOoL's in particular:

Boyd noted that "Part of Nabokov's passion for precision was his passion for color." and yet, in TOoL, colors were not presented with the same verbal attention for hue and radiance as in VN's other novels ( Gennady Barabtarlo records 238 uses of color terms in "Pnin", as mentioned by B.Boyd) -- although the effect was similarly striking, since he managed even then to "make one's memory speak in the language of rainbows".
Later, from a quote from Van Veen's annotations about "chromesthesia," I read: " I was forced to assume that the man's fingertips could convey to his brain "a tactile transcription of the prismatic specter"... added to Boyd's information about a man who'd "acquired a kind of synesthesia (tactile stimuli on his hand evoked a sensation of 'movement, expansion, or jumping'.)"

This set me on a curious path of associations in connection to "translation."
When reading Nabokov in English I often get sensations that could be likened to the blind man who felt "movement, expansion, jumping" through tactile stimuli, but added to the other's "chromesthesia."
Surprise: Nabokov makes me hallucinate his synesthetic feelings, independently of the content of his sentences! ( I'm sure that what I feel doesn't correspond to anything "real" to be found in VN, for my distorting projections intervene) As I see it now, a faithful translation that merely substitutes words from one language into another often fails to provoke in me the same rich synesthetic "hallucinations." (whatever they are) My "stingle in the spine" ( or is it a "tingle in the pine"?) which happens with VN's original could occur in a translation, but it is frequently absent. Perhaps this is what Nabokov felt through Pushkin ( a literary synesthesia)? Is this is why he was so dedicated in his translation of EO, because he charged himself to maintain certain mysterious messages that had been conveyed to him by a specific pattern, still unidentified?
Translators who don't love VN for his sinesthesia, can they rightfully honor this kind of "animistic" power that inhabits his words, or paragraphs, or sentences, or pages?


Dmitri Nabokov:[ Who will come to rescue our Laura?] Thanks, Jansy -- will you? Or at least keep making suggestions? ...
JM: When Darkbloom explains the "vibgyors" (prismatic pulsations) we find that the rainbow-color sequence, that starts with "violet", always seems to stop short before the "red" appears, in sunsets, writing inks and even in a conjuror's act. Is there any particular reason why?

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