NABOKV-L post 0017783, Sun, 1 Mar 2009 16:58:07 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] [on translation] Pale Fire and spine-thrills
Sometimes what's in a good poem is not what's in a good poem - but its effect on the reader?
Besides the emotional reaction, sometimes there are certain shots that ellude me in the original, which ricochet in translation.
Today I returned to D.Zimmer's translation of "Pale Fire," more specifically, to Kinbote's commentary on verse 920 ["Making the little hairs all stand on end."] and where CK states that:"Alfred Housman ... says somewhere (in a foreword?) exactly the opposite: The bristling of thrilled little hairs obstructed his barbering."
I'd been so taken up by all the against-the-grain matters of bimanism and adroitness that I missed a point that stood out in German: "Vers 920: sodass die Härchen sämtlich aufrecht stehn."
Isn't there a reference to Humbert Humbert's "spine-thrill of delight" or "a super-voluptuous flame permanently aglow in your subtle spine," or Kinbote's "something of the chill that ran down my long and supple spine"(Pale Fire), or VN's own voice defense of Lolita (1950 Canadian Broadcast Corporation interview) statement that "I don't wish to touch hearts or affect minds. What I want to produce is that little sob in the spine of the reader.", his words in SO on "merging of the precision of poetry and the intuition of science" where in "order to bask in that magic a wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine"?
Because we all know that by spine VN is indicating the "erection of the spinal hairs", not necessarily a beard's incipient hairs but, perhaps, some link bt. the excitement of great art and ... whatever?

btw: I remember having read a reference to a similar process of "spinal hair erection" in another author, long before VN, but I forgot to underline it and now I lost it. It might have even been Charles Darwin (although, in that case, it would not be related to artistic bliss).

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