NABOKV-L post 0019484, Mon, 22 Feb 2010 16:35:11 -0300

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Re: QUERY: Red Wop Explained
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RSGwynn [ to Jansy's: I just discovered (or had read it before, but without registering it) that Wilson's inspiration for "amphisbaenic" might have derived from Alexander Pope's Dunciad: ( a new problem now for the Kinbote/Wilson hunch!)] This may well be by Pope, but it cannot be from The Dunciad, which is written in heroic couplets, not quatrains"

JM: Thank you, RSGwynn for this information. I was also thinking about Wilson's technique, because the swappings of "powder/redwop" don't follow Wilson's criteria for "amphisbaenia," if I understood how his technique operates.

I was in for new surprises while checking the internet, before ordering Wilson's Collected Essays (including the "Triple Thinkers"). Wilson wrote about Housman (once admired by Nabokov and he is mentioned, if I still remember it right, unofficialy in RLSK, in SO and in Pale Fire.)
I found out that Housman wrote a poem using "Amphisbaenia" for a title.* There were several authors who were inspired by this double-headed snake, other than Pope and Housman (easy to find their names in wiki).
Perhaps Wilson's inspiration didn't proceed from Pope, but from Housman (the Dunciad seems to be an extremely juicy reading anyway!).

In relation to Carolyn's indignant observations [ this idea that VN is poking fun (and it would have been really vicious fun) at Wilson in 1962 (!!) is absurd. They were not only very good friends at the time, but VN owed a great debt to Wilson who had helped him enormously. The idea that he would repay his good friend's kindness and generosity with a portrait resembling Kinbote is grotesque and irreligious. ] I can only remind her that from very early on both friends seemed to have a love and hate relationship, that Wilson enjoyed Pale Fire more than he did Bend Sinister and Lolita (so either he has a fine sense of humor, or indeed, my hunch is completely wrong), that their points of disagreements were amply discussed between them, with the aforesaid humor (and, I suppose, certain silenced groans and grudges).

When I underlined items about Pope's Dunciad I skipped a couple of lines. Here they are, again: Alexander Pope had a proximal and long term cause for choosing Lewis Theobald as the King of Dunces...The proximate cause was Theobald's publication of Shakespeare Restored, or a Specimen of the many Errors as well Committed as Unamended by Mr Pope in his late edition of this poet; designed not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the true Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever published in 1726. Pope had published his own version of Shakespeare in 1725, and he had made a number of errors in it. He had "smoothed" some of Shakespeare's lines, had chosen readings that eliminated puns (which Pope regarded as low humor), and had, indeed, missed several good readings and preserved some bad ones.
Here, at least, we find some of the affinities bt. Pope and Kinbote!

The search has been very thrilling ( I've been late for various appointments today) but, in the end, my "hunch" may prove to have been totally off the mark ( I still keep faith in it, though.)




* A. E. Housman, The Parallelogram The Amphisbaena The Crocodile, Los Angeles: [Jake
Zeitlin,] 1941. **These three poems, originally published in the U. C. L Union Magazine, were privately
reissued by the Department of English of University College London and, independently, by William
White in this limited printing. Although nominally limited to 250 copies, in fact only about 85 copies
were produced by Grant Dahlstrom. The poems are illustrated by a wood engraving by Paul Landacre.


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