NABOKV-L post 0017805, Tue, 3 Mar 2009 09:07:48 -0800

Re: Three Faces of Eve
To open a bit more Mr. Bootle's amusingly rich avenue for reference hunting, you should also recall that Shirley Jackson, author of The Bird's Nest, happened to be married to Stanley Edgar Hyman, a critic who not only reviewed Invitation to a Beheading and The Gift, but can also be found popping up in unkind descriptions in letters between Nabokov and Edmund Wilson--I believe Wilson describes him at an unpleasant party given at the New Yorker.
On the subject of epochal influence. I wonder what any one thinks about Nabokov's constant denials. I have for years been confused by what he exactly means. Though he is very very very clear cut in his interviews things get a little weird when you come upon a curious complication in the introduction to King Queen Knave. After explaining his use of interior monologue in the novel as deriving from Anna Karenina and not Joyce, never Joyce, he says, "On the other hand, my amiable little imitations of Madame Bovary, which good readers will not fail to distinguish, represent a deliberate tribute to Flaubert." This quote comes after his winking denial of any sort of relationship to Balzac or Dreiser, though the book's plot, in my opinion, seems far more similiar to those writer's Hemingwayized descendants, hack noirists of the James Cain type (though I definitely believe Nabokov was not influenced by them; no, it was the films they imitated),
but that's beside the point. What interests me here is that if  you cross the quote with what he says over and over in interviews about literary "influence", and how no author ever did so to him, you realize that Nabokov's implicit personal definition of "influence" must be one of unconscious aping; "little imitations" and "deliberate tributes" do not, therefore, constitute an "influence". I personally do not think this is a tenable idea. But then I always wondered why interviewers never asked him, after his claims to have never been "influenced" by even one single writer, how then, re-inventing novelistic form tabula rosa, he managed to come up with the idea of dividing a book into chapters and, say, using quotation marks along with conventional attributions, the "he said"s and "she said"s so maligned by French New Novelists. That controversy a couple of years ago about whether or not Lolita was suggested to N. by an earlier
work would never have been such a shocking concept if Nabokov wasn't so techily, and unnecessarily, insistent posture of a total and complete sealed off singular aesthetic.

MR/CK: probably well-known, since it’s from Wiki:

The book [TFoE] by Thigpen and Cleckley was rushed into publication and film rights immediately sold to director Nunnally Johnson in 1957, apparently to capitalize on public interest in multiple personalities following the publication of Shirley Jackson's 1954 novel The Birds' Nest,[2] which was made into the 1957 film Lizzie.
Controversy exists as to the veracity of Thigpen and Cleckley's book. Chris Costner Sizemore herself has denounced the book as heavily fictionalized. She wrote her own book, I'm Eve, and a followup book, A Mind Of My Own, to set the record straight as to her actual experiences and therapy.
So, dear source-hunters & huntresses [!], you now have additional potential books and movies from which to match words (or failing that, their anagrams or, failing that, their near-anagrams) and seek suggestive allusions in Pale Fire. The sediments (waxed wing feathers) in those plural Birds’ singular Nest must offer endless happy links (VN surely sipped their Soup, and he has been known to use Bird’s Opening in Chess: 1. P-KB4 (f4 in modern notation) dangerously exposing King-Kinbote to Fool’s Mate via a Queen or Bishop on h4 - the evidence accumulates in inexorably ... ). We pause only to note (again!) that Nabokov disowned all such fancies published during his lifetime. I reckon he would have also disowned “the” correct “solution” (assuming such exists) had it been published before he died. Why reduce debate and book-sales? From the intro to Bend Sinister:

“I am not ‘sincere,’ I am not ‘provocative.’ I am neither a didacticist nor an ALLEGORIZER [my caps] [VN then ridicules claims of of Bend Sinister [I resist the abbreviation BS!] or ItaB (Invitation to a Beheading)* being influenced by Kafka and the mediocre Orwell] ... Similarly, the influence of my epoch on my present book is as negligible as the influence of my books, or at least of this book, on my epoch. [VN then relents un peu by admitting the influences of the Soviet and Nazi regimes. Logicians will notice the subtlety of “X-on-Y is as negligible as Y-on-X”: once VN has admitted some influence of Epoch-on-Bend-Sinister, he has allowed for some influence of Bend-Sinister-on-Epoch.

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