NABOKV-L post 0019580, Sun, 7 Mar 2010 12:05:20 -0500

Re: Nabokov and Martin Amis

Hafid Bouazza.: While you are discussing Wells' influence on Nabokov (pity no one seems to have read his short story 'The Moth', which I have pointed out a while ago: it is more important than any green door),

Hafid, you are so right about "The Moth". I did read it at your first suggestion, and read it again at your second. wI could easily imagine the story to have been written by Nabokov himself! I quote various lines below that made me think of VN, quite like the Moth made Hapley think of Pawkins. This epistolic war between Hapley and Pawkins, however, reminded me most of the Nabokov-Wilson skirmish. I wonder if VN at least thought of the story (assuming he read it) while firing off his counter-attacks on Wilson. And once Wilson died, did he see imagine EW hovering over his Pushkin volumes?

***So Hapley turned to chess, and found it a little more soothing. He soon
mastered the moves and the chief gambits and commoner closing positions,
and began to beat the Vicar. But then the cylindrical contours of the
opposite king began to resemble Pawkins standing up and gasping
ineffectually against check-mate, and Hapley decided to give up chess.


"New Genus, by heavens! And in England!" said Hapley, staring.

Then he suddenly thought of Pawkins. Nothing would have maddened Pawkins
more...And Pawkins was dead!

Something about the head and body of the insect became singularly
suggestive of Pawkins, just as the chess king had been.
*** Once he saw it quite distinctly, with its wings flattened out, upon the
old stone wall that runs along the west edge of the park, but going up to
it he found it was only two lumps of grey and yellow lichen. "This," said
Hapley, "is the reverse of mimicry. Instead of a butterfly looking like a
stone, here is a stone looking like a butterfly!" ***The asylum doctor calls it
hallucination; but Hapley, when he is in his easier mood, and can talk,
says it is the ghost of Pawkins, and consequently a unique specimen and
well worth the trouble of catching.

Date: Sat, 6 Mar 2010 13:24:43 -0300
From: jansy@AETERN.US
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Martin Amis

Hafid Bouazza.: While you are discussing Wells' influence on Nabokov (pity no one seems to have read his short story 'The Moth', which I have pointed out a while ago: it is more important than any green door), I want to show Nabokov's influence on others. On Martin Amis, especially... "Her hands mimed their defencelessness as the great muscles rippled and plunged along Vernon's powerful back"....A strong echo of Nabokov's in Despair: "From my magical point of vantage I watched the ripples running and plunging along my muscular back" [...] MA:" Vernon always felt desperately ashamed afterwards, and would be a limp spectre of embarrassment and remorse at breakfast the following day." That 'limp spectre of embarrassment...etc.' reminds me strongly of Nabokov...I am sure he used 'limp spectre of' at least once, but I cannot pinpoint any passage...Amis' whole erotic story seems to draw heavily from the sexual part in Despair when the narrator dwells on his 'dissociation' during love-making (chapter two).
Sandy Klein's link to Prison Proxy ( March 5, 2010 - Rereading Like Nabokov, Texas Inmate): "The author Vladimir Nabokov once said (and I paraphrase) that novels shouldn't merely be read, but rather, reread multiple times so that once can hold the novel in his mind, in its entirety, like a painting...The other night, though, I was listening to an old song on the radio, and, noting the way that I was holding the song in my mind, I got to thinking about the possibility of Nabokov's rereading reasoning applying to other forms of art....When I now listen to, and view, the song as it spans across my points of former and current appreciation, I see it rendered in 3-D through the prism of growth and experience. Isn't that related to the dynamic described by Nabokov?"

JM: I picked up Martin Amis' 'excursions' collected under the title: "Visiting Mrs Nabokov." Before I began my search I found a list of pencilled notes about particular words I needed to search in a dictionary to fit them into their context: "bowdlerize, phutted, stafing, shattered stanctions, plinthed, flange, spavined..." It gave me a Nabokovian tingling sensation on re-reading them.
Those are convincing paralles, HB ("ripples running and plunging") and a curious insertion of the "limp spectre of" (a spooky giveaway) by Amis. I remember spectres, spectral, and spectacles (the delicious KQK "respectables" series of lapsi) and, of course, prisms and photographers in VN. There are limp hands (which always remind me of Uriah Heep's handshake), limp sleeves, greensleeves and,of course, Shade (and Pnin?) have a limp.
Nabokov often brings up feet (I was told Trilby's were perfect) and slippers and shoes, or barely noticeable limps. I don't think any of these will be of help to Hafid's investigation and sensitivity to words and sonorous iterations, but I decided to set them down anyway.

I enjoyed Prison Proxy's testimony of his jewelled bejailed maturation with an almost synesthetic connection bt. sound and images, "like a painting kept in the mind."
The three-dimensional aspect is less close to painting than to sculpture and music, but one must remember that paintings, for Nabokov, may be penetrated and rendered in 3-D and served by multimidiatic invisible resources. There's still a lot of mysteries to explore...

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