NABOKV-L post 0018836, Sun, 22 Nov 2009 11:07:49 -0200

Re: TOoL: elliptical self-portraiture ...
Dave Haan [] "...The state of the manuscript requires extra- rather than interpolation, a willingness to perpetrate an intentional fallacy to perpetuate the legacy...'I would propose as a primary source: Poe's "The Oval Portrait", a short short that takes the relation of Art to Life to an extreme... There is as usual ample intertextuality to prior art ...'The man in me revolts against the fictionist, and here is my desperate attempt to save what is left of poor Mademoiselle.' (SM)."
William Skidelsky [The Observer] "...a kind of literary conjuring trick. We are invited to believe that we are reading not a made-up story but a slice of real life, before it was brushed up, elaborated upon and turned into fiction. Only, of course, this is nonsense, because the work that we are reading is also a fiction..."..."About halfway through the book, it seems that Nabokov ran into creative difficulties, because the initial narrative breaks off and the text mutates into something different...Wild, we learn, has a recurring fantasy of "self-deletion"...a process that brings him "ecstatic relief". Once again, this is an interesting idea, but it is hard to see how, in the context of this novel, it could have been fully realised."
Arthur Phillips [The Master's Sputum: Unfinished Nabokov Novel Now Open to Examination] In 1962 novelist Vladimir Nabokov replied, “Only ambitious non-entities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts. It is like passing around samples of one’s sputum.” Now, more than 30 years after his death, we have an opportunity—against Nabokov’s expressed wishes—to examine such a sample...

JM: Thank heavens that Humbert wrote about the "fire of his loins" giving no hint of inguens or intestinal hernias. Apparently he also didn't suffer from throbbing inflamed nails and obesity, nor did his lungs behave like Goldsworth's "incurably vitiated" furnace exhaling a "moribund’s last breath." Neither was his ornate recherché vocabulary, like now, touched by medical terms long out of use (even though I prefer the indication of "omoplates" to "scapula") - but his interest in female shoulders and folding angel's wings is an ever present theme. Much like feet and shoes (Cinderella's slippers, Ada's Glass shoes, peeing Ida's prune colored rogues, Martha's red pompons), which reappear when a "pre-coital Laura locates a pair of morocco slippers that are "foetally folded into their zippered pouch".

If there is one single thing that I'm certain about Nabokov is his being a conjurer, ie, someone whose incessant chatter diverts attention to what's been happening in the limelight, ie: the exhibition of his personal note cards. In "Strong Opinions" VN speaks of "passing around one's sputum" but, in another interview, he's proffered his cards kept, like Hugh Person's brown-mackintosh packages, in a shoebox - and the reader is even allowed a peek, much like now with the facsimiles of TOoL's cards. VN's anatomy lesson is proffered, as a prophet's head, on a plate. Was it or was it not VN's wish that this should happen to him?

btw: tt's just occurred to me that we are seldom allowed (by nature) to peek into higher mammal's embryonic developments, or inside reptilian and avian eggs, but the metamorphosis of butterflies is exhibited through its various slimy ramping stages... However, to rub off one's mortal ego from self-referential sentences is not achievable by erasing (even less by expunging) body parts, Wild's dolorous efforts( Philidor wildly implicates a kind of 'friendship with pain').

Had Nabokov kept to writing in Russian, instead of English, and ranked among the great Russian novelists and stylists, would "TOoL" also fare as an "embryonic masterpiece"? Playing with one of Nabokov's favorite games, I must admit that just like the "s" that changes the "comic" and the "cosmic", I note that a similar role awaits the letter "H" metamorphs from the escathologic into the escatologic.

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