NABOKV-L post 0015743, Sun, 2 Dec 2007 11:15:49 -0500

Re: THOUGHTS on Canto One
I join those who have thanked you, Jim Twiggs, for bringing up
those two strange sexual images in Canto 1 (and /pace/ Sam
Gwynn, I think the glue image has sexual connotations,
regardless of what fish glue actually tasted like).

I agree that the "swerve into the third person" is remarkable.
We have Shade unpoetically comparing himself as a little lad
to a little lad. The normal way to express the simile would
be something like "But as if I'd been forced by some great
wench..." (There are undoubtedly better alternatives.)

One change that I think you need to make is that you have
young Shade experiencing universe-scrambling orgasms
/before/ puberty and becoming obsessed with sex. Even though
he was "prone on the floor", I doubt he felt more than dull
throbs in his Triassic.

In fact, I don't see his fits as orgasms. If he was
abused, that's not what he was describing as fits. Here
there's a point that also applies to Matt Roth's
interesting comments about Hazel's tumbled bed: If Shade
can't face past sexual incidents, why is he telling us
about them?

If he was molested, I agree with the people who said that
Aunt Maud isn't necessarily the culprit.

But I'm still not sure he was. Let's suppose he simply
did feel an unusual, almost obsessive intimacy with
nature, and feel "corrupted, terrified, allured" by his
seizures and the glimpse of death he saw in them. I
think images with sexual denotations or connotations
suit those feelings perfectly. And those two feelings
(the first in reference to the powers that stage storms
and cage us) are the very center of the poem, deserving
striking language.

(Also, pre-pubertal sexuality was something Freud
emphasized, as I recall. Is there any chance of yet
another parody of Freud here? I admit I don't see it.)

Finally, I agree with you that the sound of the first
syllable explains Kinbote's otherwise inexplicable
"country", but in my experience, "growing pains" isn't
necessarily a sexual euphemism.

Jerry Friedman

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