NABOKV-L post 0018662, Tue, 13 Oct 2009 14:02:22 -0300

Re: [NABOKOV-L] A Viennese in Pale Fire: "Bera" and "Fountain"
JM: In relation to Bunny-Volodya letters ( VN once signed himself "Volodia" instead of "Volodya") I noticed that, apparently, Shade corrected Nabokov!

In his letter 279 (written in August 14,1956) Nabokov wrote that he "moved on to higher altitudes in Wyoming and Montana."
[Cf. Lines 506-510 in Pale Fire: "You and I,/ And she, then a mere tot, moved from New Wye/ To Yewshade, in another, higher state/ (After all, "altitude" means "height" and, besides, the word "state" is nicely ambiguous).]


A curiosity: Wilson presented Nabokov with an extensive list of quotes about "Et in Arcadia Ego."
He wrote: (but his wording is none too clear): "In the picture, the "ego does not refer to Death, as I understood you to say it originally had, but to the dead man in the tomb. The live shepherds are reading the inscription. Says Death: Even in Arcadia am I."
He added "I seem distinctly to remember that the phrase originally ended with a vixit - though I sometimes imagine such things. But it must have ended with something." I located Wilson's "something" in a text that contains: "Et in Arcadia ego has come to be synonymous with such paraphrases as 'Et tu in Arcadia vixisti.' ...

The novels which offer more indications about "Arcady" are exactly those that span the more productive exchanges in the VN-EW correspondence (Bend Sinister, Pnin, Lolita, Pale Fire). Following a note by Simon Karlinsky we learn that Turgenev mentioned them in his poem "Correspondence," inspired by Konstantin Batyushkov's "Inscription on the Grave of a Shepherdess" (1810). And there are more surprises to follow qua VN and - Dr. Johnson, when we reach a putative source for Nabokov's interpretation, favoring a King's (George III) instead of Johnson's!

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