NABOKV-L post 0018607, Sun, 27 Sep 2009 13:27:27 -0300

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Re: from Ron Rosenbaum re: an encounter with <Laura>]
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Dear List,



I would like to substitute the "seriously flawed pirate translation by 'LV', " because I fully agree with Dmitri Nabokov that "citing it as authoritative is a disservice to VN."



Dmitri was kind enough to help me reach the version he did for The New Yorker (Fiction Issue, Dec. 26, 2005 / Jan. 2, 2006), from where I extracted the lines:

"Swept out of the valley night by an inspired oneiric wind, I stood at the edge of a road [...] I knew that I was in Paradise [...] Suddenly, the road on which I stood, breathless from the shimmer, was filled with a tempest of wings. Swarming out of the blinding depths came the angels I awaited, their folded wings pointing sharply upward [...] Embracing my shoulders for an instant with his dovelike wings, the angel pronounced a single word, and in his voice I recognized all those beloved, those silenced voices. The word he spoke was so marvellous that, with a sigh, I closed my eyes and bowed my head still lower. The fragrance and the melody of the word spread through my veins, rose like a sun within my brain; the countless cavities within my consciousness caught up and repeated its lustrous edenic song. I was filled with it. Like a taut knot, it beat within my temple, its dampness trembled upon my lashes, its sweet chill fanned through my hair, and it poured heavenly warmth over my heart[...] I shouted it, I revelled in its every syllable, I violently cast up my eyes, which were filled with the radiant rainbows of joyous tears. . . .
Oh, Lord-the winter dawn glows greenish in the window, and I remember not what word it was that I shouted."
(Translated, from the Russian, by Dmitri Nabokov.)



Such lost visions, after waking up from an inspiring dream, have also spurred on Nabokov in connection to the title of his novel "Bend Sinister".

In the foot-note on page 96 ("Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya", The Nabokov-Wilson Letters,1940-1971, Revised and Expanded Edition, University of California Press, 2001) Simon Karlinisky notes: "A Person from Porlock" was the working title of the novel that eventually became Bend Sinister. The "person from Porlock" was the man who interrupted Coleridge as he was writing down "Kubla Khan," causing him to forget the rest of the poem".



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Ron Rosenbaum:List members might find my account of first looking into the prepublication edition of <The Original of Laura> of interest. I am particularly grateful to Dmitri for the acknowledgment. I did read all 138 index cards, but for the time being that was the only matter Knopf permitted me to write about. http://www.slate.com/id/2229224/
[...]I woke up having forgotten the "secret" but never forgot the thrill of being close to that hidden knowledge [JM: a similar experience is related by VN is one of his early short-stories, I think it is in "The Word"*]. That's the way I feel when I read Nabokov. Encrypted within his words, encoded indecipherably, ambiguously, is the equivalent of the secret of lightning.

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* The Word, 1923: "Carried away from a terrestrial night by the inspired breeze of a dream, I found myself standing by the edge of a road...and I knew that I was in Paradise ...And suddenly the road on which I stood, suffocated by this splendour, was teeming with a tempest of wings.

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