NABOKV-L post 0019250, Wed, 27 Jan 2010 13:52:03 -0200

:PF and Parody--response
Jerry Friedman [ What might "Pale Fire" parody? In my opinion, some of the punning, witty poets who were on the ascendant at the time: Richard Wilbur, James Merrill, Anthony Hecht. But Brian Boyd has mentioned that Nabokov praised Wilbur, though not the others. He has also mentioned that Helen Vendler thinks highly of "Pale Fire", and she greatly admired Merrill. So it could also simply be a similarity of some methods.]

JM: For Nabokov's own assessment of Richard Wilbur we find, in Strong Opinions (p.131/34, Vintage),in April 1969: "I seldom experience nowdadays the spinal twinge which is the only valid reaction to a new piece of great poetry - such as, for example, Richard Wilbur's "Complaint," a poem abut his marvelous duchess," (Phoenix Bookshop edition, 1968).
As it happens when I peruse an old underlined volume, there are finds:
Q: "Why, in Pale Fire, do you call parody the "last resort of wit"?
VN:"It is Kinbote speaking. There are people whom parody upsets." (p.77)
Q ":..To what extent do you feel that prose and poetry intermingle as art forms?"
VN: "...I would be inclined to define a good poem of any length as a concentrate of good prose, with or without the addition of recurrent rhythm and rhyme...The bamboo bridge between them is the metaphor." (p.44)

Since I had by me an edition of the "Oxford companion to twentieth century poetry in English" I checked its entries and there was no mention of Nabokov, but there were representative bits of A.Hecht, R.Wilbur and others. I tried to recover the information at home using the google but there must be a new edition with additional poets included in it*.

Concerning otherwordly matters, I extracted a comment offered in this new edition of the Oxford Companion, that struck me in particular concerning "how fashions rise and dive... the general shape would surely have reflected the epoch's taste for the florid and religiose, its lack of any real interest in technique...[ten years later we]would note a new respect for the output of the American academies and for those writers of the 1940s who had kept their wits about them and not turned to God, or Jung. Overall, there would have been more braininess than ecstasy, more common sense than communal subconscious..."

* Poetry The Oxford companion to twentieth-century poetry in English. .... Covers Warren, Fitzgerald, Bishop, Brooks, Duncan, Swenson, Wilbur, Hecht, Dickey, Levertov, Koch, ... Sound and form in modern poetry. Gross, Harvey Seymour. (PE1505 . ... -

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