NABOKV-L post 0018383, Tue, 16 Jun 2009 15:12:40 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] Pale Fire's Rousseau
Dear List,

May Kinbote's attribution, to Shade, of a favorable opinion towards Rousseau's "le bon sauvage," [namely, Kinbote: What we term Original Sin can never grow obsolete./ Shade: ...Personally, I am with the old snuff-takers: L'homme est né bon] be extended to encompass VN's opinion about Romantic and Classic writers? *. VN once said that his views are similar to Shade's. Consequently Shade, a classics-lover like Pushkin, would he be siding with the Romantics? **

We know, from Shade's own words, that Rabelais is an important reference and, like Rousseau, he values folkloric contributions to art, something VN openly deplored in his commentary to the "Slovo" : "lucid work of one man, not the random thrum of a people [or] the gradual accretion of lumpy parts which is so typical of folklore" ( Foreword by VN,"The Song of Igor's Campaign", Ardis, p.11).

What would VN have been trying to suggest when he had Kinbote oppose Shade's "l'homme est né bon"? *** Was he adding elements to his invented characters, was he expressing different religious ideas, was he indirectly elaborating on Classic and Romantic art?

* In EO, we can read from Nabokov's commentary: "We should not forget that "pure French classicists," such as Corneille, Racine and Molière, were among Pushkin's favorite writers..."(p.36, Six XXIII). And yet, from Pushkin's rough-draft for "Boris Godunov" we read a rather ambiguous assessment of Corneille: "Les vrais génies de la tragédie ne se sont jamais souciés d'une autre vraisemblance que celle des caractères et des situations. Voyez comme Corneille a bravement mené le Cid: ha, vous voulez la règle de 24 heures? Soit. Et là-desus il vous entasse des événements pour 4 mois. Rien de plus ridicule que les petits changements des règles reçues."
In Nabokov's reference to Corneille's "El Cid" in "Lolita" I found:
"As expected, poor Poet stumbled in Scene III when arriving at the bit of French nonsense. Remember? Ne manque pas de dire à ton amant, Chimène, comme le lac est beau car il faut qu'il t'y mène. Lucky beau! Qu'il t'y - What a tongue-twister! Well, be good, Lollikins. Best love from your Poet, and best regards to the Governor. Your Mona [...] I looked up from the letter and was about to - There was no Lo to behold."
( In Appel's notes (page 415 ref. 223/1):"an allusion to Quilty and a parody of the classical alexandrine verses of seventeenthh-century France, specifically of Le Cid (1636), by Pierre Corneille: "Do not fail to tell your suitor, Chimène, how beautiful the lake is, because he should take you there." Chimène is from Le Cid, but the line itself is invented.")
Would young fashionable letter-writer Mona be able to read and interpret "French nonsense"?

** And yet, for Pushkin, Rousseau should be placed among the "classics". To avoid extensive quotes in a posting, thanks to A.Bouazza's expert indication, I refer those who are interested in this item, to Nabokov's commentaries in EO (2/ 32-37) where we find (2/36) a translation of Pushkin's paragraphs "On Poetry Classical and Romantic"(1825) - which I only have in Portuguese translated from "Works" (Moscou, Khudójestvennaia Literatura, 1949,pp.714-715).

*** In CK's philosophical dialogue, Shade remains optimistic in his anthropomorphic mysticism ( "Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one."). Kinbote disagrees while, at the same time, like Shade, he expresses his belief in an "individual hereafter" - and this takes out the edge of their dissension.

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