NABOKV-L post 0019435, Thu, 18 Feb 2010 01:58:50 -0200

Re: [NABOKV-L] ftorStan Kelly-Bootle [to JM:...Why would Joyce have named his novel "Ulysses" instead of Odysseus? Nabokov, all set against a "mythological reading" of Joyce's novel, might have chuckled at Stan's query ]:"... it’s plain daft to deny many intended parallels with Homer’s epic. But there’s NO contradiction here with Nabokov warning us not to over-interpret Joyce’s novel in terms of Greek mythology...You misread my rhetorical query. It’s a well-aired point in Joycean scholarship...that Joyce was enamoured of Oolissays... Joyce later told Frank Bugden that Ulysses was “the only all-round character in literature.” [ ]... to embellish the real Marat allusions with his “belief” in phlogiston is, as we say, a bit of stretch."

JM: Indeed, I misread your "rethorical query," with the implication that neither Nabokov, nor Joyce, had read Homer in the original. VN's kind of aerial view of Dublin and its inhabitants, while lecturing on Joyce's "Ulysses", favors this kind of geographical/animated "patterning," instead of drawing parallels with Homer's yarns after a unifying element for Joyce's individual chapters.
Your main point, and I agree with you, warns against "over-interpretations" ( in every sense!)

Nabokov's recurrent references to the French Revolution, with a bit on electricity unexpectedly thrown in, led me to read about the Marat/Lavoisier enmity, related to the "phlogiston." These marginal readings are (for me) a refreshing side-effect from my way of exploring Nabokov.

As I noted before, the "torf/ftor/trof/fort" scramble is insufficient, for me, to derive indications about ruin,decay, explosives or combustion and syllabic links to VN's other works. However, this theme is never absent from Ada, nor are those images of a phoenix-like ressurrection from the ashes. These are in contradiction to Nabokov's equally frequent returns to his ideas about "immortality through art," or HH's dejected recognition that "we have only words to play with" ( quoted from memory).

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: