NABOKV-L post 0015572, Thu, 11 Oct 2007 23:37:34 +1300

Subject
Re: She lived to hear the next babe cry
Date
Body
Actually what Kinbote writes is that “At her [Maud’s] death, Hazel (born 1934) was not exactly a ‘babe’ as implied in line 90.” True, at Maud’s death Hazel is not a babe, but the point of “She lived to hear the next babe cry” is only that Maud is still alive, and still in the house where she was already living when her nephew John was born, when Hazel is born. By the standards of Shade’s parents, who died more than 30 years before this next generation, Maud’s lasting this long is quite an achievement.
Shade mentions his parents’ deaths (“I was an infant when my parents died”) then 19 lines later notes that, unlike them, Maud “lived to hear the next babe cry.” That she lived another 16 years is not the point; the point is simply the contrast with his parents. When they died, John Shade was still a crying infant. Maud lived to hear the NEXT generation cry.
Nabokov’s and Shade’s text is clear, and there is no need to invent a hidden melodrama that would destroy the design of the novel.

Brian Boyd

-----Original Message-----
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum on behalf of Matthew Roth
Sent: Wed 10/10/2007 5:00 AM
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] reply to one of Matt Roth's query & a counter-query

MR responding to CK's comments:

CK: I don't quite understand your interpretation here - - who are you
saying Kinbote thinks is "one and the same" as whom?

MR: I was trying to say that the wife in ballerina black is, as Kinbote
suggests, based on the girl in the black leotard who "haunts Lit. 202."

CK: Shade tells us that "Aunt Maud lived to hear the next babe cry."
Kinbote correctly points out that this can hardly refer to Hazel but by
implication this "next babe," born in her later years, must be a blood
relative of Maud's. The only people capable of engendering a child who would
be related to the elderly Maud are Shade and Hazel. Since there is no
apparent (sorry) child who fits this description in Shade's poem, he or she
seemingly no longer exists or has moved out of Shade's orbit and certainly
has not been recognized as a legitimate child or, in the unlikely event that
Hazel is the parent, grandchild.

MR: I agree with all of this, except I don't dismiss Hazel as the possible
mother-in-question. Also, I take the statement about Aunt Maud ("lived to
hear") to mean that Aunt Maud's reason for living was to see a great-nephew
(essentially a grandchild) born. Unfortunately, I don't think she quite made
it.


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