NABOKV-L post 0019030, Sun, 3 Jan 2010 12:40:55 -0200

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Re: TOoL: Formal Experiments
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James Twiggs [to Darryl Schade]: "I have no idea what may or may not have crossed VN's mind ...he was hardly the first to use, let alone invent, most of the devices of metafiction. For good, short, highly readable books on the subject, I would recommend Robert Alter's Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre..., and Robert M. Adams's Afterjoyce: Studies in Fiction after Ulysses...The comic index of Pale Fire had at least one outstanding forerunner in The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse, edited by D.B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee and published in 1930. Other examples of highly self-conscious writing, roughly contemporaneous with VN's American period, are Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) and--one of my all-time favorite books--Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style (1947).In addition, we should not forget Pirandello and the revolt against realism that he represented in drama...Finally... almost from their very beginnings, movies and comic strips were deeply invested in playing all manner of tricks with space, time, consciousness, and narrative. Or think of Picasso and Cubism . . . Or heck, forget the twentieth century. Isn't it obvious that most of what we think of as metafiction is strikingly prefigured in Velazquez's great painting, Las Meninas (1656)? " I was surprised (not being a thorough reader of Dante's Divina Commedia) to learn that Dante was one of the first writers to use a Kinbote-styled commentator's interferences.

Alexey Sklyarenko:It is wonderful to start the New Year with the right book on the screen of one's computer! [ ...Bentham is mentioned not only in Pushkin's novel in verse, but also in Thomas Carlyle's On Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History..., Napoleon is not mentioned in Ada, but he is one of the heroes in Carlyle's book....ALBION = ALBINO ...Griffin, the unfortunate hero of Wells' The Invisible Man, is an albino. Wells' novel is directly alluded to in Ada (1.32): "Van changed his course from gravel path to velvet lawn (reversing the action of Dr Ero, pursued by the Invisible Albino in one of the greatest novels of English literature)."...]

JM: Thanks Jim for the most informative and fascinating ennumeration of authors who discoursed on metafiction and their links with Nabokov, particularly the inclusion of Velazquez's way of painting himself into the picture and his disquieting composition with a mirror. Nabokov is an instigating guide into history, art, philosophy, geography. He listed Queneau among the modern French authors he admired (together with Robe-Grillet and Jean Genet) and, for a fleeting moment, I discerned a bit of his Exercises in Style in TOoL as if, more important than plot or content, style was all that mattered (the moment was very fleeting, in fact. I couldn't recover it ). Thanks for a great posting.

It is wonderful, like AS stated, to start the New Year with the right List on the screen... Yesterday, while recovering forgotten parts in ADA from Holabird's book on colors, I found a reference to an albino doctor, too. No time to check into that now, Alexey, but it will add to your list of associations. I think this albino was blind and the first name related to synesthesia.
There's a lot about Wellington, Lavoisier, guillotine and the French Revolution in ADA: no Napoleon, then? There's a book on Carlyle that links his "hero-worship" theories directly with dictators (Hitler, Stalin) which is worth checking into: Ernst Cassirer's "Myth of the State." .

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