Re: LATH and Mayakovsky: addendum
I'm glad the discussion has drifted toward Look at the Harlequins. Can anyone recommend a discussion of the premise of the book--the search for a cure for the hero's inability to go back the way he came?
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 00:18:01 -0200
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] LATH and Mayakovsky: addendum
A.Sklyarenko: "Trying to remember his family name, the hero of LATH, Vadim Vadimych, mentions his British and American passports: "The U.S.A. passport recently issued me ... did not mention my ancestral title; this had figured, though, on my British passport, throughout its several editions" ...Mayakovsky is the author of the famous Стихи о советском пасспорте ("Verses on the Soviet Passport")."
JM: I remember an episode (no page & no precise information right now) VN described to Edmund Wilson, related to the president of a segregated college where he delivered a lecture in America. Perhaps Nabokov is alluding to it through Vadim, too - albeit very indirectly. Perhaps the information my come in useful, any way: when this American educator went to Great Britain he was always addressed as "Colonel". Later he realized that this happened because his American passport had Col. (colored) added to his name. Without re-telling this story, VN often referred to this "colored"... I think he had Kinbote add something in Pale Fire. There is certainly VN himself in SM.
George Shimanovich ["Woody Allen equally managed...Excess of seriousness in this phrase is ironic. Comparing VN with Woody in that way is kind of ... woody. I...disagree with agile part"]
JM: My news about the sighting was equally woody, particularly in the first posting when I no longer had the original by me and tried to render it by memory! It's difficult to translate the kind of humor present in Verissimo's short and informal text. He often develops a Nabokovian frame of mind with multiple alusions people may often miss ( and he doesn't care, nor does he explain). In the present case, the title "With or Without Abyss" is applicable to a joke about two dwarfs, one jumping up to reach the counter to order a bottle of water while, on the opposite side of the counter, the other keeps asking, in vain: "with or without bubbles?" (sparkling water is "com gas", plain is "sem gas"). Verissimo's text is bubbly and the tone ("excess", "balance") is impossible to balance in a quick translation ... ( Verissimo once started his biography with "I majored in Literature and I drown in drink to forget..." making reference, by the rythm of the lines only , to a song of the fifties sung by V.Celestino: "Tornei-me um ébrio, na bebida busco esquecer," - when a drunkard sings about his unfaithful lady. I suppose he must have been referring to his age, his generation and to his love for treacherous literature).
Frances Assa: "...truth is the underside of comedy (but, unfortunately, the converse doesn't seem right.) I'm surprised at the Graham Greene choice...And of course someone with both an ear for comedy and pathos was just the right person to "discover" Lolita! Dimitri somewhere mentioned that he had read some of Greene's novels at home as a youngster, but never revealed which ones nor whether VN enjoyed any. Since I see parallels between the writers, I'd certainly like to know."
JM: Verissimo compared GG's novels (dealing withsin, religion and politics) to his other writings named "divertissements."
His reference to GG and to Woody Allen in connection to Nabokov, and in such an unpretentious article, reveals his particular sensibility to "innuendoes" and to comedy&pathos. He mainly parodies poshlost and travels alternating easily the sibilant in "comic/cosmic."
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