NABOKV-L post 0019638, Mon, 15 Mar 2010 23:09:28 -0400

Subject
Re: [NABOKOV-L] Wells's "The Moth"
Date
Body


Regarding Hafid's comment about Wells's "The Moth", VN certainly knew the story, as he writes Harry Levin, p. 136 of "Selected Letters":

"only Wells, Conan Doyle and Conrad have portrayed lepidopterists—all of them spies, or murderers, or neurotics"






Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2010 11:34:52 +0100
From: hafidbouazza@GMAIL.COM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] Boris Vian and Nabokovian wordplay
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU

Still searching for 'a limp spectre' in Nabokov's works, I stumbled upon a... green door! In fact, green doors. They are the doors of Elphinstone hospital (the poet Oliver Goldsmith was born near Elphin, Ireland) :


- and Aurora had hardly 'warmed her hands,' as the pickers of lavender say in the country of my birth, when I found myself trying to get into that dungeon again, knocking upon its green doors, breakfastless, stool-less, in despair.


(Lolita, II:22)


Best,


Hafid Bouazza


2010/3/13 Jansy <jansy@aetern.us>



S.K-Bootle [to JM]: it remains a question of fact whether VN ever read anything by Vian. Given VN’s unbounded curiosity, and Vian’s relative prominence, the chances are indeed high...But Alexey seemed to suggest that the anagrams of v-i-a-n might be relevant, or may even have played a role in VN’s choice of reading. Not sure if you accept my rejection of this dubious approach? ...I would hope such evidence would be stronger than in the recent exchanges on Martin Amis, where the latter’s use of “limp” was rated significant.

JM: I cannot say that I either endorse or reject your rejection of Alexey's approach because, however hard I try, I cannot understand AS's theory or his anagramatic links. I learn a lot, indirectly, by his information on Russian lit. and several other indications.

Whenever possible I risk posting an item which might serve him as a clue (now,for example, I tried to open the field on Boris Vian, so as to avoid closing the issue after your remarks). There were two examples comparing sentences by M.Amis and V.Nabokov that were excellent matches. I don't know why one should discard the "limp specter" intuition that could provide us with a third example. A forum is a forum is a forum.

Take an aphorism I recently collected from "Strong Opinions" (Vintage,155) "the best part of a writer's biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style." I encountered, by accident, a similar sentence (but not "similar"enough), by Valéry, quoted by Edmund Wilson ("Axel's Castle", ch.3 on Paul Valéry).
Valéry, like Mallarmé before him, valued literature for its "algebraic" qualities and complexity of pattern. He wrote "Who is able to read me will find my autobiography through form. Content is of little importance."*
E.Wilson's chapter on James Joyce (part V) describes how Joyce's characters "thought and felt exclusively in terms of words" (cp.with VN's observation that Joyce gave too much verbal body to his thoughts). Wilson explains that Joyce's faulty vision interfered progressively with his apprehension of the world and that this fact was one of the elements that led him to express what would have simply remained as a private "sight", describing it in detail in order to recover his "vision" for the particular item. Wilson offers an interesting example from Portrait of the Artist beginning with "- Um dia pintalgado de nuvens marinheiras..."

.............................................
* I don't have the original in French nor Wilson's rendering in English. I use "O Castelo de Axel" as my source...
The examples of sentences where Amis referred to Nabokov were not far-fetched at all, but excellent finds.







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