NABOKV-L post 0017491, Wed, 17 Dec 2008 14:04:52 -0200

QUERY: Swinburne, Dolores, Mazeppa

Jerry Friedman: It's impossible for me, and I suspect was for VN, to see a mention of Swinburne's "Dolores" without thinking about sadism and masochism[...] I don't see how Oursler or the reviewer who quotes him could have missed it either.[...] I can't see the surname "Quine" without thinking about the Harvard philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine [...] Another Quine is Richard Quine, an American actor and director [...] In the inevitable VN coincidence, his last directing credit was /The Prisoner of Zenda/ (1979), starring "Peter Sellers & Peter Sellers".[...] I'm afraid I may have only provided more red herrings.[...] how little Zemblan natural history there is in /Pale Fire/. Nabokov must have been telling us those bogs and butterflies were in his imagination.

JM: A few more red herrings! Like the joy by going round and round the fire in a ceremonial dance VN once mentioned ( in "Lolita"?) instead of taking a short-cut...

The "Dolores" poem, mentioned explicitly in Ada, presents an interesting link bt. Lolita and Ada: Swinburne's lover was called Dolores and Adelaide (Adah Menken, nicknamed "Great Bear"):
"For Menken, probably born as Adelaide McCord in Milneburg, Louisiana, or possibly Philomène Croi Théodore or Dolores Adios Los Fiertes in New Orleans, there was an ongoing play of identities: multiple versions of her birth, her parentage, her ethnicity. Her ongoing art work in that sense was an elaborate self-construction". We've been discussing VN's relationship with female writers ( I'm skipping sado-masochism and wild eroticism...) and Menken's formal innovation as a poet, like that of Walt Whitman, whom she knew from the New York café scene of the early 1860s, was in the open/projective/free verse line of her later poetry. In this she need no longer be viewed as an imitator of Walt but as someone drawing like him from the Bible and Ossian [...]while driven by a very different sense of mind & body." [...] Her book of largely free-verse poems, Infelicia, published shortly after her early death, caused astonishment & bewilderment, & only now may appear as what it surely was: the emergence of an unfettered woman artist & poet. [MENKEN, ADA ISAACS. [PSEUD. OF DOLORES ADIOS FUERTES]. INFELICIA. London, Paris, New York: 1868. 12mo, (4), viii, 142pp, frontis portrait, reproduction of a letter by Charles Dickens. Green cloth, slightly worn at extremities, gilt lettering on front and spine. Gilt edges, contemp. bookplate. title loose, otherwise a good, sound copy. ¶ First Edition, published a week after the author's death.Offered for US$ 125.00 by: Dailey Rare Books - Book number: 6273].
btw: I cannot see VN referring to logician Quine as "Quine, the Swine"...Probably Quine stands for somebody else. I've tried to jumble the sounds, search for a pun (most of VN's puns, while spontaneously playing with polisemy, are marvellous. The deliberate ones are often similar to Prof. Pnin's...) - but with no success.
For those who want to follow the thread, there are old VN-postings, by A.Sklyarenko, on Pushkin's "Poltava", Maria, decembrists and all. Thnnks, in retrospect, AS...

S K-B on Priscilla Meyer's SWTSHH: "Kinbote's translation back into English from Uncle Conmal's Zemblan translation of Timon reads [...] "We may conclude that in Zemblan, as in Anglo-Saxon and modern German, the sun is feminine, and the moon is masculine." Priscilla doesn't mention that Kinbote's sea is now overtly neuter (it). Worth noting the relevance of these gender shifts to the debate with JA/JM re-translational hurdles. Many LitCritters go all GIDDY over genders, reading irrelevant sex-genders into grammatical-genders! [...] PS: Good news for iPod Touch and iPhone users. A FREE application from the called SHAKESPEARE, gives you searchable online-text access to ALL the plays[...] This is HiTech serendipity at its highest! "

JM: Grammatical-genders are puzzling. The sea, neutered for Kinbote, is feminine in French and masculine in Portuguese and Spanish, although sun and moon are masculine and feminine, respectively, in all three. Does your erudite high-tech inform about the lines in BS: follow the perttaunt jauncing 'neath the rack/ with her pale skeins-mate ?

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