NABOKV-L post 0019290, Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:34:11 -0200

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Re: THOUGHT Abstractist Bric-A-Brac (PF,the poem)
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A.Stadlen: VN acknowledges... that he had lent some of his likes and dislikes to Shade ...how can lumping these things together constitute "speak[ing] of evil as none has/ Spoken before"?... It is Nabokov's own endorsement of the list that is "the real thing strange".

JM: I don't think Nabokov considered Shade's urge "to speak of evil" as taking place on the same level as his, and Shade's, dislike of swimming pools and jazz. Different themes are ludicrously mingled to great effect: the "Newport Frill" rhetoric of evil, his trivial dislikes, shaving procedures, methods of composition...

Canto Four starts with a broad statement: "Now I shall spy on beauty as none has/ Spied on it yet. Now I shall cry out as/ None has cried out. Now I shall try what none/ Has tried. Now I shall do what none has done./And speaking of this wonderful machine:/ I'm puzzled by the difference between/ Two methods of composing..."
Then, he promises "to speak of evil and despair/ As none has spoken./Five, six, seven, eight,/ Nine strokes are not enough. Ten. I palpate." Finally, we get to "Now I shall speak of evil as none has/Spoken before. I loathe such things as jazz..,"aso.

I doubt it that Nabokov had any intention of engaging in any serious denunciation of "evil" at that point. These are some of the lines in which I see an authorial intromission, and Shade voicing VN's self-parody and his moments of playfulness in S.O ( just like it happened with the similarity bt. the sounds of "Hase" and "Haze").



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