NABOKV-L post 0015799, Fri, 7 Dec 2007 20:56:37 -0200

Re: THOUGHTS: Ella Wheeler Wilcox in SM and PF (?); Phoenix and
date palms. Hamlet's father.
M.Roth: Maureen Johnston's query about "miserable concoction" caused me to read more closely section 5 of Ch. 11 of SM. I was surprised to find there a reference to Ella Wheeler Wilcox. I see that VN did indeed know of her work (her poems, at least), I will venture the possibility that Mrs. Wilcox does indeed make a cameo appearance in Shade's poem. Three parallels:Shade: "For as we know from dreams it is so hard / To speak of our dear dead!" (589-590)Wilcox: "The effort to obtain communication with our dear dead should begin with prayer and supplication..." (408) Shade: "I'm reasonably sure that we survive / And that somewhere my darling is alive..." (977-78)/Wilcox: "Somewhere beyond all this I believed my Robert was living..." (347)/Shade: "A medium smuggled in / Pale jellies and a floating mandolin." (639-40)/Wilcox: Here is a picture of Wilcox with her beloved mandolin. Of these parallels, I think the last is most definitive, unless of course there is another good reason to have a mandolin there.

J. Mello:The parallels are striking indeed, even when we consider that this kind of spiritualistic language is full of stereotypes that would easily gain echoes here and there.It seems VN made deliberate use of "dear dead", "somewhere beyond he/she is alive"... and VN might even have been serious about it, at least during the period that came after his father's assassination.
Nabokov wrote to his mother: "We shall see him again. Everything will return" [P.Meyer, Find What the Sailor Has Hidden, (106,240) ].
Pale jellies and a floating mandolin apparently clinch it! ( suggests a surrealistic scene by Dali)

Sirin, dark owls and the phoenix are present in "Pale Fire" not only from what J.Friedman brought up about "another owl", mentioning a post from Matt Roth on Hamlet and the ghost. There was a discussion at the List some time ago about Shakespeare's orchard - and the "date palm"- often associated to the phoenix.

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