NABOKV-L post 0018182, Fri, 17 Apr 2009 12:16:39 -0300

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Fw: [NABOKOV-L] A Preterist's preterition in Pale Fire
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Dear List,

When Shade brings up "preterist" for the second time (Canto Three), its meaning as somewhat related to past events is enhanced, but slightly different in spirit ( as also Shade's suggested signification, related to cold nests and dead ornithologist parents).

In PF we find: "Iph...missed what mostly interests the preterist; for we die every day;oblivion thrives...on blood-ripe lives".
In 1962 (S.O,p.12) VN states:"Memory is, really, in itself, a tool...; and some recollections, perhaps intellectual rather than emotional, are very brittle and sometimes apt to lose the flavor of reality when they are immersed by the novelist in his book, when they are given away to characters [...] the freshness of the flowers being arranged...that kind of thing is absolutely permanent, immortal, it can never change, no matter how many times I farm it out to my characters, it is always there with me;[...] I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is..."

Shade despises the future as a promise of any "hereafter" ("Iph missed..."), but he equally recognizes the empty shells of cold "mementos" and its "foxed files" and piles of bungled names.And yet, he adds "oblivion thrives..on blood-ripe lives." I understand that dictionaries, too, may become the instruments for intellectual, not heart-felt recollections: for a "murderer's fancy prose"* instead of a poet's.
A life-giving breath in "preterist" would not restrain its meaning to prepositions and adverbs. It would detect the verb that lurks behind a preterist's "preterition", ie, to "pretermit" (defer, omit, pass over).

VN states this in SO, but also in Lolita: "My private tragedy, which cannot, indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural language, my natural idiom, my rich, infinitely rich and docile Russian tongue, for a second-rate brand of English."
What does he mean? That he was forced to "pretermit" his living beloved Russian?
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SK-Bootle wrote to VN-List(3/31/09): "When thousands of invented, inkhorn, Latinate words were added to English (17-18-19th centures) quite artificially on top of the thousands of older, more "genuine" Latin imports, the problem of relating meaning to form/roots/etc mount beyond simplistic etymologies and dictionary definitions. Preter- is a natural preposition for Grammarians when dreaming up fancy names for past tenses."
Off-list he compared the prescriptionist W2 (Webster II) and the descriptionist W3, considering that the latter "shocked many, including VN, by dropping many arcane words, but adding many 'vulgarities' on the grounds that dictionaries must describe the language AS ACTUALLY USED." [...] Interestingly, W3 also dropped what W2 listed as 'Undefined Combination Words.'

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