NABOKV-L post 0018636, Tue, 6 Oct 2009 12:17:59 -0300

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Re: QUERY: SPEAK, MEMORY
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Phyllis Roth: I tried to address this issue, however successfully or not, in "Toward the Man Behind the Mystification," published in 1982 in Nabokov's Fifth Arc, edited by Rivers and Nicol. I'm still rather fond of that piece but there were no drum rolls when it appeared.
[EDNOTE. I too discussed the issue in a couple of conference papers, one of them in a session organized by Phyllis, and an essay called "'The Small Furious Devil': Memory in 'Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster,'" in A Small Alpine Form, ed. Nicol and Barabtarlo. SES]


JM: Thank you both for the bibliographic indications. Roth's "Toward the Man behind the Mystification" is easily available and I'll try to get the other articles as soon as possible.
btw: I also recommend SES's 1995 article "The V-Shaped Paradigm: Nabokov and Pynchon," where this matter is also addressed in relation to TRLSK.

I was interested in exploring Nabokov's vocabulary in relation to 'homosexuality' (because he was famous for his attention to detail and opposition to generalizations) and this is why I turned my attention to his rendering of human relationships (man-woman;woman-woman;man-man). Like one, in TRLSK, when V. approaches "the crucial point of Sebastian's sentimental life ...in the pale light of the task still before [him]."* I also questioned if VN's pederast characters were mainly pedophiles, as someone concluded once.

In "Verses and Versions" there is an epigram by Pushkin which VN translated as: " The harm is not that you're a Pole..a Tatar be, for all I care...no harm there either: the harm is you're Vidock Figlyarin."
Perhaps Sergey's "harm" resulted from his having been, simply, his (not very) younger brother and easily tagged?


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*V. had just been analysing Sebastian Knight"s novel "Success", where SK probes "the aetiological secret of aleatory occurrences," related to Percival Q's meeting a girl (a conjuror's** assistant). According to him the novel contains "a passage so strangely connected with Sebastian's inner life at the time of the completing of the last chapters, that it deserves being quoted in contrast to a series of observations referring rather to the meanders of the author's brain than to the emotional side of his art," referring to William, who was the girl's "first queer effeminate fiancé, who afterwards jilted her" and who, in tears, would exclaim " 'Raining in Paradise,' ... 'the onion of happiness... poor Willy is willy nilly a willow'..." This same childish donjuanesque "willy" who later asks himself: "Would she go the way of May, Judy, Juliette, Augusta, and all the rest of his love-embers?"

**in TRLSK VN chooses the word "conjuror," although in PF he refers to Shade as a "conjurer."

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