Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019899, Sat, 24 Apr 2010 23:16:36 EDT

Semblable: neighbour, fellow, but not double
Jansy has raised a very interesting point. T. S. Eliot is, surely,
curiously inaccurate in translating "semblable" as "double". Clearly, "semblable"
no more means "double" than "frère" does. If, as Jansy says, "meu
semelhante" is used like "neighbour" in "love your neighbour", then it is relevant
that the context of the first appearance of "love your neighbour" (Leviticus
19.18) also links "neighbour" with "brother" (in the wider sense) just as
Baudelaire does: (Leviticus 19.17) "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy
heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour and not bear sin because of
him." The twofold structure of the Hebrew verse means that "neighbour" and
"brother" here are interchangeable.

In Jewish translations and discussions in English of the Holiness Code,
i.e. Leviticus 19, the word "fellow" is often used interchangeably with
"neighbour". "My fellow, my brother" -- isn't that what Baudelaire means?

Anthony Stadlen

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In a message dated 25/04/2010 03:18:15 GMT Daylight Time, jansy@AETERN.US

Tom (Rymour) Having applied my mind to the problem, let me provide a
closely-reasoned and succinct solution: Old McNab used that particular noun,
"pond" -- because he needed a rhyme for "blond".
Hugs and kisses, PS: I challenge anyone to form an anagram from either
JM: To respond like a true blond chic chick, I must needs ponder the egg
before any anagrammatic homelet.
In the meantime, a query to all:
T.S.Eliot wrote a note for the last verse of his first Canto (Burial of
the Dead) of "The Waste Land," (often suggested in PF) by appropriating and
translating C.Baudelaire's famous dedication. Eliot chose to translate "mon
semblable" as "my double".
In Portuguese we find the word for " mon semblable" (" meu semelhante")
applied as, in English, in the proverb "love thy neighbour" ( the implied
"similarity" indicating shared humanity and not a replication, like in
Eliot's choice may have ellicited some kind of criticism from Nabokov (who
spoke French as well as he spoke English).
(a) Is there a better word for "semblable" in English? The French
"vraisemblable" in English appears related to "verisimilitude" (here it's closer
to "doubles" than to "neighbours");
(b) Could Nabokov's choice to have Kinbote as Shade's neighbour also in
any way implicate "his double" (in support of the split-person theories)?
Cf. Eliot's note: Baudelaire, Preface to Fleurs du Mal.

C'est l'Ennui! ....
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
Hypocrite lecteur! mon semblable, mon frère!

Eliot's translation:
It's boredom! ....
You know him, reader, this dainty monster,
Hypocritical reader! my double, my brother!

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