NABOKV-L post 0015725, Thu, 29 Nov 2007 18:35:28 -0200

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Re: THOUGHTS on Canto One: glues and pastes
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Jim Twiggs:In my opinion, a careful look at lines 161-163 may help to answer some of the recent questions about Canto One. Here are the lines: "But like some little lad forced by a wench/ With his pure tongue her abject thirst to quench,/I was corrupted, terrified, allured,"
...Because of what they suggest about Shade's life and character, Iconsider them the most important lines in the poem,perhaps in the entire book. ...... the experience he describes--HIS experience--remains so painful that, even in his sixties, he can't face it head on. The switch back to the first person for line 163-- "I was corrupted, terrified, allured" --reveals the awesome and hence lasting trauma of his being sexually abused by his Aunt Maud. If we're willing to go this far, then we might want to revisit lines 102-104: "How fully I felt nature glued to me And how my childish palate loved the taste/ Half-fish, half-honey, of that golden paste!" Any grown man with a lick of worldly experience ought to be struck, on a first reading, by the strong sexual connotations of the words "honey," "fish," and"taste." Then he might decide that what's being talked about here is merely the liquid glue that children use for pasting items in scrapbooks. But then, when he reaches lines 161-162, he may once again want to reconsider. If he does, the image that comes to mind--Aunt Maud's pudenda plastered to a small boy's face--might seem as funny, in a very Nabokovian way, as it is appalling.

J.Mello: I was intrigued by J.Twiggs' certainty that the dead wench had actually been his Aunt Maud.
I'm still unsure about who corrupted, terrified and allured Shade, but I recalled another reference to a sticky paste and a "roll-wave of surfeit" associated to remembrance and an aunt (Proust's), found in "Ada":
"In later years he had never been able to reread Proust (as he had never been able to enjoy again the perfumed gum of Turkish paste) without a roll-wave of surfeit ...yet his favorite purple passage remained the one concerning the name 'Guermantes,' with whose hue his adjacent ultramarine merged in the prism of his mind..."

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