NABOKV-L post 0017700, Sun, 15 Feb 2009 01:35:04 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat; Eberthella Hurley
Hafid Bouazza [ to JM "We know VN was disappointed after he realized Fitzgerald's was not true to the original poems."]: I do not know whether "you are aware that Nabokov was dissapointed in Fitgeralds adaptation after reading Burgess' article 'Omar and Graves', which is to be found in his Urgent Copy. Arberry has made a more faithful rendering, but not in quatrains, as did John Payne before him of Khayyams poetry."

Stan Kelly-Bootle [toSA/JM]: 'could "left" here also have an echo of the Latin "sinister?" This meaning persists in derog. Brit. Slang: "left-hander" (and "left-footer") applied (rather irrationally?) to both Roman Catholics AND Homosexuals. For what it's worth, in the Gay context, "Turning [over] a new leaf" is an idiom that immediately recalls the Oscar Wilde anecdote [...] I've always taken Khayyam/Fitzgerald's "dawn's left hand" to mean the "false dawn" that played an important prayer-timing role in Islam[...] I can't see that either Borges or Nabokov have the linguistic/cultural CREDENTIALS to judge the merits of Fitzgerald's "Englishing."[...]'

JM: Hafid, I don't recall where I found VN's emphatic comments about Fitzgerald. One more reason to get Burgess' "Urgent Copy", thanks for the indication. I understand that you and Abdel Bouazza have wide experience with distinct translations of Khayyam in various languages. My ability to judge is limited. I'm unable to contest Stan K-B's conclusion on Borges' and Nabokov's linguistic/cultural credentials, but it's not impossible to assume that VN's objection had been to Fitzgerald's having recreated, not translated, Khayyam's poetry.

In relation to "left-handed" and homosexuality, there are other allusions which shall probably remain undecided. For example, we know that Kinbote rated Housman highly. Therefore when, in Pale Fire, we read:"since both Alfreds [ Housman and Tennyson] certainly used an Ordinary Razor, and John Shade an ancient Gillette, the discrepancy may have been due to the use of different instruments," Kinbote's stress on "Gilette" ( a double-edged razor-blade) may be indicatitve of his familiarity with its sexual innuendoes: ie: was Kinbote thereby suggesting that Shade was a bisexual?
btw: I tried to figure out P.Meyer's additional comments on Kinbote's "wod" and VN's use of the word (PM writes that Eadbald, son of Aethelbert, caused "much damage to the church by his faithlessness and fornication with his father's wife"), because the motive for this chastisement is unrelated to Kinbote's own sexual inclinations and to John Shade's history: is there a link I missed?

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