Dave Haan sent me (off-list) a few comments
on Litt/Lit and Sylvia O' Donnel. He agreed that I share it with
"...your Lit vs Litt observation: Everyman faithfully
reproduces what's in the First Impression (Lit in the poem, Litt in the
commentary), but Kinbote's not consistent, as he uses the former form in the
preface, referring to "Lit. 202".
On your other query, I'd raised the
question in the NYTimes' discussion of Boyd's book, which he quotes in his
follow-up "Azure Afterimages" in Nab Studies #6: "[Sylvia O'Donnell]'s the only
character who bridges Zembla and New Wye (at least in Kinbote's mind) and seems
well-connected: mother of Odon (1st marriage), wife of Gusev, Duke of Rahl
(who's Oleg's father), in process of divorcing Lionel Lavender (cousin to
Joseph, who's nephew is Gordon)." I missed Nodo, index listing as "son of
Leopold O'Donnell and of a Zemblan boy impersonator". So there's no blood
relation between any of them, excepting the mirror-imaged half-brothers."
added: "Boyd's article posits Sylvia O'Donnell as Kinbote's
"wish-fulfillment antithesis" of Sybil Irondell Shade, and counterpoint to the
"woman spurned" theme. The index ref to Nodo, "boy impersonator", echoes C275:
"He [Charles] saw nineteen-year-old Disa for the first time on the festive night
of July the 5th, 1947, at a masked ball in her uncle's palace. She had come in
male dress, as a Tirolese boy, a little knock-kneed but brave and lovely..."
Curiously this reference is omitted in the index entry for Disa. C433, which is
referenced, compares Disa to Sybil Shade: "Now the curious thing about it is
that Disa at thirty, when last seen in September 1958, bore a singular
resemblance not, of course, to Mrs. Shade as she was when I met her, but to the
idealized and stylized picture painted by the poet in those lines [261-267] of
An innocuous phrase embedded therein, "when last seen", repeated
in concluding Sylvia O'Donnell's index entry, "when last seen in this
Index".(Howzat for going full circle?). Good luck unravelling the familial
relations (and the names), but I think the weave much tighter."
JM: Exceptionally good reporting, Dave.
Fortunately I have the #6 Nabokov Studies, with Boyd's original article
(2000/2001).I landed on those "familial relations" by sheer accident, as it's
wont to happen with me.
Would anyone believe it if I confessed that this
unfolding story began last week, when I set myself the task to
investigate the word "Onhava"?
In one of his elocubrations Kinbote
appended to the words "far,far away..." what could only mean
their translation in Zemblan, should it made any
sense gramatically speaking, ie, he added, in
Besides the actual use of "far,far away" by the creators of
"Shrek," with pomp and circumstance, I noticed that its first movie appearance
took place a long time ago. Just before Judy Garland bursts into singing "Over
the Rainbow," we learn that the land of which she'd heard in a lullaby is "far,
far away..." (grandkids help me to investigate Nabokov! ).
Unfortunately I'm unable to follow
Boyd's fantastic common-sense logic here, when he presents us
to Hazel's ghost or her lovely transformation in the hereafter, nor his
ideas about "women spurned" (with their proverbial wrath?). The hypothesis that
Sylvia could be Kinbote's "wish-fulfillment anti-thesis" of Sybil Shade makes no
sense at all if we consider Kinbote's homosexual constitution, misoginy and
Marvellous indication, Dave, related to the two sentences that
pair Disa and Sylvia ("when last seen"). If we understand these to link both
ladies, how are we to understand the propositions: "Disa=Sybil";
"Disa=Sylvia" when we keep in mund that only Disa, of all three, has
been sexually spurned and that Sylvia is seen as "the antithesis of Sybil"?
* PF(CK): "Gradus admitted an unexpected visitor — one of the greater Shadows,
whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in
wild, misty, almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks
our magical mechanical age plays ..."
**- Aunt Em: Now, you just help us out today and find
yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble.
Dorothy: Some place
where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place,
There must be. Not a place you can get to by a boat or a
train.It's far, far away - behind the moon - beyond the
(Over The Rainbow)
Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up
high. There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to
do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, Away above the
That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere, over the rainbow,
bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then - oh, why can't I?
happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh, why can't
The surprise also derives from another message by
Dave Haan: " Funny thing about the Oz
connection, and "far, far away, behind the moon": The Pink Floyd album "Dark
Side of the Moon" synchronizes with the movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Side_of_the_Rainbow."
We must remember that,
in his poem Shade writes about Hazel and
her fate in connection to "Time" using traditional
1. In the school
My gentle girl appeared as Mother
A bent charwoman with a slop pail and broom...
2. At the time of her
Out of his lakeside shack
watchman, Father Time, all gray and
Emerged with his uneasy dog and went
reedy bank. He came too late.
Charles Kinbote presents
a different image, when he describes an unexpected visitor that appears to
Gradus as "one of the greater Shadows,
whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in wild, misty,
almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks our magical mechanical
age plays with old mother space and old father
John Shade presents an
incongruent pair, one which is exclusively linked to "time".
Kinbote's couple offers space as "feminine" and allows
"her" to be einsteinlianly married to time (is there a special
twist in that?).
We shall later find more comments about
time and space, through unreliable Van in "Ada," and various observations
by Nabokov himself, about his idea of "time and space," and "time forks," but
what interests me now,
mostly, is the "bent" as it's found in "time's bend backs" and as it
has been applied to space by Shade ( also space is bent or folded and
... Maybe some
quirk in space
Has caused a fold or furrow to
The fragile vista, the frame house between
Goldsworth and Wordsmith on its square of green.
Are Shade's lines prophetic
of his imminent disappearance in time and space, or is this kind of
comparison pointless (besides, "even Homais nods"?) Will the mythological
reference to Uranus, Chronus, Phanes, Chaos be in anyway helpful
here? Any ideas?
What about the quirky synchronicity related to Oz wizardry?