NABOKV-L post 0018929, Tue, 8 Dec 2009 01:53:25 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] TOoL, Longwood and a silent seed
Excerpts from Eric Naiman's excellent review ( =/c/a/2009/12/06/RVPH1AQLOR.DTL#ixzz0Z2Q5u0MN) :
"The Original of Laura" is about an author who loves himself to death. Not everyone will read "The Original of Laura" this way; many readers of this auto-elegy won't agree that Nabokov has found the fun in funeral..If we don't treat the text as pure surface, and if we don't want to see it as a dying author's miscarriage, we will have to read it as Nabokov's last metafictive parable. In no meaningful sense a novel, "Laura" has as its closest predecessor probably Nabokov's 1957 poem "The Ballad of Longwood Glen," in which Art Longwood, "a local florist," climbs up into a tree and disappears[...] the compensation for Art's disappearance is supposed to be the poem they are in..." For Naiman, this book contains "one of the most interesting short stories Nabokov never wrote."

JM: After reading E.N's suggestion about TOoL's "closest predecessor", I was immediately reminded of a short story Nabokov did write and which "could be a tongue-in-cheek story about the strange case of one poet dissolving in another." It was published soon after a poem,originally published in Russian by Vasiliy Shishkov (in the Russkiya Zapiski, 1939) which had been greeted with "exceptional enthusiasm" by the critic Adamovich*. The poem expresses a mixture of fun and nostalgia concerning a passage into another region resembling dissolution together with "all the things that already I cannot express." And yet, this poem concludes with the promise of a "silent seed."
"In a moment we'll pass across the world's threshold into a region-name it as you please: wilderness, death, disavowal of language, or maybe simpler: the silence of love; the silence of a distant cartway, its furrow, beneath the foam of flowers concealed; my silent country (the love that is hopeless); the silent sheet lightning, the silent seed."
TOoL's over exposure is at present far from silent but Nabokov's seed, like hopeless love, will certainly flourish in genius and in parody.


* As VN describes it: "I could not resist elaborating the fun and...I published in the same Poslednie prose piece "Vasiliy Shishkov." Adamovich refused, at first, to acknowledge that it was Nabokov (Sirin) who had invented Shishkov. Later, the critic admitted that Nabokov "was a sufficiently skillful parodist to mimic genius." and VN adds:" I fervently wish all critics to be as generous as he."(Preface to a collection of stories named "Tyrants Destroyed")

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: