NABOKV-L post 0019165, Tue, 19 Jan 2010 19:26:34 -0800

Re: THOUGHT on Shade as poet
I did memorize Canto One with no problems - it took me a few days. The process is fascinating. I've also met a few people who knew  Eugene Onegin  by heart. Yeah, they are very good novels.
Vladimir Mylnikov

From: R S Gwynn <rsgwynn1@CS.COM>
Sent: Tue, January 19, 2010 4:30:22 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHT on Shade as poet

In a message dated 1/19/2010 1:48:07 PM Central Standard Time, glipon@INNERLEA.COM writes:

>Let me pose you this question:
>What if you were ridiculously
>committed to Pale Fire, the poem,
>and actually memorized it,
>(perhaps you possessed
>some extraordinary mnemonic process).
>Do you think you could recite it for an hour
>to an audience of the academe,
>or of a lesser curiosity?
>Would they need a transcript, a set of notes?
>if so how many pages might that be?
>And, of course: "How would it be received?"
Poe says that an audience loses comprehension after 100 lines, so "PF" would be a stretch.  But I do think that the poem makes perfect sense without any footnotes whatsoever, especially if we admit the existence (pace Roland Barthes) of a "real" author named John Shade and an audience that is at least partially aware of his other poetry and his family history.  For example, I think that such a reading would make more sense to an audience, even an uninitiated one, than would, say, a reading by Robert Lowell of Life Studies, addressed to an audience who had never heard of Robert Lowell.  Kinbote's "good" notes are helpful but hardly necessary to a reading of the poem.
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