NABOKV-L post 0019430, Wed, 17 Feb 2010 13:14:43 -0200

Speak, Nabokov
Matt Roth:"I have just finished Michael Marr's Speak, Nabokov, and, like Carolyn Kunin (who gets a nice mention in the book, btw), I very much enjoyed it. One regret is that...Maar goes on at some length about the Cinderella motif, but he doesn't seem to know, or thinks it irrelevant, that Cinderella is at root an incest tale."

JM: There are outstanding books on the origins of fairy-tales, Bruno Bettelheim's or Marina Warner "The Blonde and the Beast", for example. And yet, perhaps Nabokov's interest in "Cinderella" was uninformed about these purported links bt "Aschenbrödel" and incest theories. Why would the incest theme#, in Nabokov, necessarily demand this kind of "psychological" background information ( which he was clearly aware of, anyway) and its material lack be something strong enough to spoil Maar's the breadth in his book?

I was happy when I read Carolyn Kunin's reference to "Speak, Nabokov" because, in her commentary, she stressed Maar's non-idolatrous vertex and the scope of his literary inter/intra-connections, favouring exciting inroads into VN's works.
Maar's theory about a nabokovian "cryptomnesia," influencing his writing of "Lolita," had predisposed me against him.For me, "Lolita", as Nabokov's other novels is, too, a novel sustained by style, not by "real life" plots*

Inspite of present-day speedy exchanges of information, my mental processes keep lagging behind, with outdated "Sightings".
Only now can I make a comment about a review of TOoL, in Dutch, by Hafid Bouazza, praising VN's novel's posthumous edition (a praise with which I had not been in full syntony.) A.Bouazza has translated his brother's text for the Nab-L readers (Nov.21,2009) and one of the sentences in Hafid/A.Bouazza's rendering kept rebounding in my mind. It was strangely familiar and descriptive of Nabokov's verbal conjuring and enchantment.
Yesterday I discovered why ( style! always style!). In Hafid/AB's rendering: "Martin Amis would say that the enchantment was gone: the blue wave that on every page of his previous books swells under the heart and breaks in the mind in an iridescent splash swelled but sporadically.". These lines are also magically resonant with Humbert Humbert's own enchantment, after he saw Lolita for the first time: "a blue sea-wave swelled under my heart and, from a mat in a pool of sun, half-naked, kneeling, turning about on her knees, there was my Riviera love peering at me over dark glasses." I learned next that Hafid Bouazza has deliberately quoted HH to extend, in a particularly poetic way (not lost in translation), Amis's words, for his own comments about TOoL.
As I see it ( and feel) this contrafacta** was most forcefully and succesfully explored and Nabokov was born all over again in a cool lawn in New England. No "phlogiston" but an internal combustian that gives rise to the "phoenix."
I wonder now if decrepit "Laura" will have a chance of "rebirth" by a similar process of 'magic discovery.'


*- Something in line with Flaubert's project to write "le livre sur rien," sustained by style alone. In "L'Éducation Sentimentale," for example, he will write: "l'existence lui fournit l'accidentel, il le rend l'immuable; ce que la vie lui offre, il le donne à l'art."

** Contrafacta as employed in music ( for example, Bach's autoplagiarism, and his sacred music inspired by profane, popular music, themes).

# -The two most famous works in world literature are, of course, Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare's Hamlet ( "fact" and "unconscious wishes") and, the first, also deals with "adoption", "filicide", "homosexuality (pederasty)" and "pedophilia". From the anthropologic angle, Levi Strauss' "symbolic machine" ( in "Structural Anthropology") deals with the relation bt. Sophocles, incest and exogamy, with interesting observations about "what's in a name" (Labdacos, Laius, Oedipus, their maimed "feet" (as in "Cinderella" btw) and "chtonic" (Eliot/ John Shade?).

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