Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027479, Fri, 25 Aug 2017 11:45:37 -0700

WIP: Tri-part Man Part III
WIP: "Art, Alchemy and Failed Transcendence: Jungian Influences in Nabokov's Pale Fire"

A few other "Tri-part man" indications in PF:

>Here are more lines from Shakespeare's Timon quote than is in PF:

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun;
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves

The moon into salt tears; the earth's a thief,
That feeds and breeds by a composture stol'n
From gen'ral excrement; each thing's a thief.

Note that Sun, Moon, sea and earth have a circular relationship. They are, then, in a sense, united. A recurring theme of this relationship will be found throughout the text.

Although there are four “characters” here, they can be reduced to three, as both the sea and the land are part of the “earth”. Sun/Moon/Earth: metaphorically and psychologically, and alchemically, we could say it is a united triad of “spirit/soul/body”, or “ Higher Consciousness/Ego/Unconsciousness” and, as we shall see, “Shade/Kinebote/Gradus”.

This “stolen” quality we see especially in the reflection of the Sun on the Moon, and in the many references to light, reflections, mirrors, nacre, luminescence, opalescence, etc. There are many levels of this theme of theft, or borrowing, including Nabokov’s many “cryptomnesic” parodies of the works of others. Jung wrote the following about the symbols of Sun and Moon:

“There are mythological theories that explain everything as coming from the sun and lunar theories that do the same for the moon. This is due to the simple fact that there are countless myths about the moon, among them a whole host in which the moon is the wife of the sun…
The moon is the changing experience of the night, and thus coincides with the primitive’s sexual experience of woman, who for him is also the experience of the night. But the moon can equally well be the injured brother of the sun, for at night affect-laden and evil thoughts of power and revenge may disturb sleep. The moon, too, is a disturber of sleep, and is also the abode of departed souls, for at night the dead return in dreams and the phantoms of the past terrify the sleepless. Thus the moon also signifies madness (“lunacy”). (Jung, The structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Vol.8 Collected works, P. 154)

Note how much the above quote is reflected in Pale Fire: from the allusions of the relationship of Sun and Moon in the title, to the “anima”(experience of woman) associations of the feminine Moon, to the feminine moon sometimes appearing as a brother (i.e. Kinebote, and possibly the reason he is portrayed as gay), the disturbed sleep (Shade, Kinbote, Gradus and Nabokov), the departed souls and phantoms (Hazel), to lunacy (Kinebote); practically the whole story is contained here!

>Pope's "Essay on Man", a poem about "pride" as "ego" used to be called, is quoted several times in PF. Here is an extended quote:

See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king,
The starving chymist in his golden views
Supremely bless'd, the poet in his Muse.
See some strange comfort ev'ry state attend,
And Pride bestow'd on all, a common friend:

Nabokov did not quote the last five of these lines – it would give too much away. John Shade is the “hero”, but he drinks. Kinbote is the “lunatic king”. The “starving chymist” (alchemist), is Gradus. The “poet” is Nabokov himself. The blind beggar and the cripple? My guess: mediocre talents.

>The first two lines of Shade's poem also allude to the three main characters. "I" (Ego) was the shadow (lower self) of the waxwing (higher conscious seeking transcendence).

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