NABOKV-L post 0017690, Wed, 11 Feb 2009 23:50:48 -0200

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Re: THOUGHTS re: Botkin, V.
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Steve Arons: `"That is the wrong word,'' [Shade] said. ``One should not apply it to a person who deliberately peels off a drab and unhappy past and replaces it with a brilliant invention. That's merely turning a new leaf with the left hand.'' We have here a question of identity together with the front and back of a leaf. I'd also note the peculiarity of the gesture described by Shade, which implies hiding the page being turned from others' eyes [..]This suggests to me that the recto/verso hypothesis in the ``Botkin, V'' index entry is not without an anchor in the text.

JM: The theme of werewolves involves an "inversion" ( of the skin, of man into wolf), probably a sexual inversion.
Kinbote and Botkin, "turning a new leaf with the left hand", the image of the front and back of a leaf, perhaps even "verses and versions" express the same transformation.

Nevertheless, Nabokov's choice of allusions is never simple. I was also reminded of a line of Khayyam's Rubayyat (in Fitzgerald's translation, the detail is not present in the original): Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky/ I heard a voice within the Tavern cry,/ "Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup/Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry." We know VN was disappointed after he realized Fitzgerald's was not true to the original poems.




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