NABOKV-L post 0018444, Sat, 11 Jul 2009 18:43:29 -0400

Re: [NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Sybil Shade as a pseudonym

Dear Jansy,

Sybil Shade could be Vladimir's pseudonym. But consider the possibility of it being Vera's translation. Are there any handwritten versions in existence? My wild stab in the dark is due to having always pictured the Sybil of Pale Fire as Vera, for some reason. Fran

Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 10:02:05 -0300
From: jansy@AETERN.US
Subject: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Sybil Shade as a pseudonym

In Nabokov's "Verses and Versions" there is a French poem "translated by Sybil Shade". Its original, "Odelette," was written by Henri de Régnier ( 1804-1936) and the title Nabokov/Sybil chose for the English is "Passing of Youth".

To the poem, in a PS, was added a note, dated December 25, 1962: "a prettier paraphrase of the first stanza, to cure the tautological last line, would be: " What sweetness in my every thought[...] those rocking barks with nought/ In their extinguished lamp but night."

In the editor's notes we find: "French text: Nabokov encountered this poem in a translation competition in the Sunday Times December 23, 1962. From Henri de Régnier, Vestigia Flammae. Poèmes (Paris: Mercure de France, 1921),114."

QUERY: I would like to learn if anyone knows if Nabokov chose the name "Sybil Shade" as a pseudonym, or what were his motivations.
I found in it an added irony for "our" Sybil was presented as translating English poets into French.
Here the process is inverted: she works over from the French into English.

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