NABOKV-L post 0017737, Wed, 25 Feb 2009 14:31:54 -0300

Re: new in Zembla
Re: [NABOKV-L] new in ZemblaSKB: Alexey: working through your wonderful essays[...]I meet Derzhavin's death-bed last-gasp [the river of time] taken [...]to "imply" a crushing human mortality, albeit with some relief for poets whose choicest words may "live on." VN's view of the Life Hereafter is more complex, of course, and subject to ongoing debate. It's interesting to compare Derzhavin's lament with the Anglican hymn O GOD OUR HELP IN AGES PAST, by Walter Greatorex (1873-1949)[...] The two stanzas share the same imagery, not just the cliché of flowing Time, but Time as the rapid, inexorable torrent sweeping us all away to oblivion[...] As annoying lecturers say: Come back when you've read David Deutsch (MWI, MultiWorld Interpretation of Quantum Theory) and Leszek Kolakowski ...

JM: Early on, from Priscilla Meyer's LWTSHH book on Pale Fire, I learned about Nabokov's preoccupation with linear, historical time. Like the Venerable Bede's sparrow crossing a lighted room from one dark winter into another. Van's chapter Four in ADA is Bergsonian, Nabokovian and Vanian, filled with H.G.Well's parallel worlds, forking time and ghostly presences.
In PF the preoccupation is with linear time (historical time engenders the idea of the importance of every individual soul and of personal memory and the dangerous stepping on the oxygen pipeline). Not so in ADA, as I see it - Van's idea suggests a miraculous eternity achieved thru the word ( no longer God's), "dying into the book" like a pressed dry flower, to be read and thus to arise over and over again.
TT is a mockery with no redeemer. I have no clue about LATH, nor what we will find in ToOL... My overall impression is that VN finally got over "historical time" while keeping his faith in a ghostly, but personal after-life. Unlike impaler Vlad's recurrence ( as in Bram Stoker's vision), because VN's hereafter demands compassion, beauty and art. Translation as art, included.

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