NABOKV-L post 0018661, Mon, 12 Oct 2009 15:26:08 -0300

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[NABOKOV-L] A Viennese in Pale Fire: "Bera" and "Fountain"
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In his letter 279 (written in August 14,1956) Nabokov writes to Wilson that "we moved on to higher altitudes in Wyoming and Montana. Incidentally, in one of his letters to Fliess the Viennese Sage mentions a young patient who masturbated in the w.c of the Interlaken hotel in a special contracted position so as to be able to glimpse (now comes the Viennese Sage's curative explanation) the Jungfrau. He should have been a young Frenchman in a Wyoming motel with a view of the Tetons."
(SK's note: "Sigmund Freud's letter of December 9, 1899 to Wilhelm Fliess").

btw:Jungfrau in German means "virgin". Wiki informs that "The Teton Range (the Rocky Mountains in North America)...on the Wyoming side of the state's border with Idaho, just south of Yellowstone National Park....Early French voyageurs gave the name "les Trois Tétons" (the three breasts)."

Besides the well-studied transformation of "fountain" into "mountain"in "Pale Fire" and a reference to the "Little Red-riding hood" which confirms VN's extensive reading of Freudian articles (and Kinbote's more occasional experience)*, there are two other items that set the key for Kinbote's notes and Shade's poem.
One of these is "moved on to higher altitudes in Wyoming and Montana"(**).
The other, a rendering of Kinbote's delusional state by transforming Shade's mountain into the Zemblan Bera Range and coloquially referring to "erection" as quoted below:
"Well," I said gaily, "what were you writing about last night, John?..."
"Mountains," he answered.
The Bera Range, an erection of veined stone and shaggy firs, rose before me in all its power and pride."
( CK line 802)



The irony about lines 711-719 worked into lines 801-803*** is doubled when set side by side to Kinbote's own metamorphing Shade's mountain into its fabulous Zemblan counterpart ( does "any man recognize natural shams"? and how about lunatics?). After all Shade was describing himself as a "mere stray" in the "common-place world of the living."



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* - Line 929 (Freud) and K's description of one of his exchanges with Shade: In my mind's eye I see again the poet literally collapsing on his lawn...howling with laughter, and myself, Dr. Kinbote...as I try to read coherently certain tidbits from a book ...a learned work on psychoanalysis, used in American colleges, repeat, used in American colleges. Alas, I find only two items preserved in my notebook:

By picking the nose in spite of all commands to the contrary, or when a youth is all the time sticking his finger through his buttonhole... the analytic teacher knows that the appetite of the lustful one knows no limit in his phantasies.

(Quoted by Prof. C. from Dr. Oskar Pfister, The Psychoanalytical Method, 1917, N.Y., p. 79)

The little cap of red velvet in the German version of Little Red Riding Hood is a symbol of menstruation.

(Quoted by Prof. C. from Erich Fromm, The Forgotten Language, 1951, N.Y., p. 240.)



** - Lines 506-510 "You and I,/ And she, then a mere tot, moved from New Wye/ To Yewshade, in another, higher state./ I love great mountains..."



***- " In life, the mind/ Of any man is quick to recognize/ Natural shams.../But in the case/ Of my white fountain what it did replace/ Perceptually was something that, I felt,/Could be grasped only by whoever dwelt/ In the strange world where I was a mere stray.

"There's one misprint - not that it matters much:/Mountain, not fountain. The majestic touch."/ Life Everlasting - based on a misprint!" (lines 801-803)





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