NABOKV-L post 0024080, Sat, 27 Apr 2013 19:37:19 +0200

Re: Personification in LATH
Last week I intended to post the following compilation in response to
Jansy's query regarding VN's use of pathetic fallacy. It is highly selective
and gleaned from the novels only, but purports to show that this stylistic
feature of VN's did not wane with the passing of time, i.e. from Ada onward,
including the posthumous unfinished The Original of Laura.


A latticed gallery looked across its garlanded shoulder into the garden and
turned sharply.. 44

A notice-board calmly proclaimed 216

The clock.was gathering its strength to strike 231

"It's crowded and gay down there, with a masturbating jazzband. No?"

Transparent Things:

Amidst tossing remonstrative trees 64

A long lavender-tipped flame danced up to stop him with a graceful gesture
of its gloved hand 104

Look at the Harlequins!:

None of the serried tree trunks looked this way. 10

Intelligent trail 171

The Original of Laura:

A cloudless September maddened the crickets. 83

The novel My Laura was begun very soon after the end of the love affair it
depicts, was completed in one year, published three months later, and
promptly torn apart by a book reviewer in a leading newspaper. It grimly
survived and to the accompaniment of muffled grunts on the part of the
librarious fates, its invisible hoisters, it wriggled up to the top of the
bestsellers' list then started to slip, but stopped at a midway step in the
vertical ice. 117

A. Bouazza

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jansy
Sent: zaterdag 27 april 2013 18:32
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Personification in LATH

Personifications, in LATH, are not as common as I thought because the
emphasis has shifted from attributing human feelings and motion to inanimate
objects, to dwell on human movements acting onto specific body-parts (as the
tongue steping down the palate, in "Lolita" and "... down the marble steps
of memory's front porch, here sheslowly comes, sideways, sideways, the poor
lame lady..." in LATH)

I think that Nabokov considers them, simply, stylized images:: "Only by
projecting thus on the screen of my mind those stylized images, could I
allay the anguish of carnal jealousy.."

A host of trite examples with a moon looking down, a smiling sun and lapping
waves seem to have escaped his scrutiny* - perhaps even those in which we
find again variations about "the stunned look on the face of a clock
that has stopped."

There are many delightful and joyous motion-images: "the performance that a
breeze was giving above a street sufficiently narrow for three pairs of long
drawers to cross over on a string in as many strides or leaps" and multiple
variations about typography that may belong to a separate category, probably
related to the movement-body-thought kind: "Then I drew a thick line
underneath and a caravan of question marks...," one that has not been used
simply as a rich dream-state analogy:"I saw my pages and notes flash past
like the bright windows of an express train that did not stop at my
station, with a battery-operated green engine that emitted at realistic
intervals puffs of imitation smoke, pursued a circular course through a
brambly picturesque nightmare grove whose dizzy flowers nodded continuous
assent to al the horrors of childhood and hell."

I'll continue my search and, please, remember that I humbly welcome
corrections and suggestions!


* However, Nabokov indicates one that stems from the poetry of Pushkin:
"recite that Pushkin thing about waves lying down in adoration at her
feet." and in this case it might be an ironical move. .

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