Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019989, Sat, 8 May 2010 01:31:28 EDT

Re: THOUGHTS: the need for climax in Canto 4

In a message dated 07/05/2010 23:55:00 GMT Daylight Time, Rsgwynn1@CS.COM

As I've said before, the omission of the last line by Shade (and the
"last" line is probably the first) is part of the poem's clearly symmetrical
structure. Leaving off this line this would make line 500 the central line of
999 (only in a poem with an odd number of lines can there be a central
line). This line the marks Hazel's death, and Hazel's death is clearly the
"center" of the poem.

This is a non-sequitur. It answers the questions "Why would there have
been a line 1000?" and "Why would line 1000 have been the last line?" It does
not answer my question: << Why, why, why "presumably a repetition of the
first line at the end"? >>

The poem appears symmetrical in certain respects. This no more proves line
1000 = line 1 than that line 999 = line 2. And the poem is not obviously
circular or cyclical like Finnegans Wake.

As I said: << We have only Kinbote's word for it. Why should we accept it?
He doesn't even claim Shade told him there would be such a repetition. As
I pointed out last time round, the poem would read very oddly if it did in
fact end with the first line. Was my instigation of the Great Competition
on NABOKV-L to compose a last (not equal to first) line all in vain? >>

Perhaps the line would have been a despairing glance into the Abyss:

"So will the Competition be in vain?"

Or, as our revered editor SES more sublimely put it, subtly inverting past
and future in a clear allusion to Eliot's meditation on time in Burnt

<< Was vying for a last line all in vain? >>

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