NABOKV-L post 0018760, Tue, 10 Nov 2009 08:22:57 -0200

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Fw: [NABOKOV-L] Pale Fire and Vrubel's six winged Seraphim;
Lolita and Mirandola
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Researching about Mirandola (unconvinced that Nabokov had no second intentions by introducing this name in "Lolita") and Orvietto, I reached the reproduction of a painting, by Mikhail Vrubel, related to Pale Fire's "six winged seraphim" and to Pushkin.
I checked past postings at the VN-List archives* and noticed that the Vrubel's painting has not been mentioned among the various renderings of the seraph.
I think that for our iconographic register this image is rather important because it connects both Pushkin and Vrubel directly to "Pale Fire," with the additional item related to the word "seraph" meaning "fire" (excessive, not pale)**

And yet, in relation to Pico della Mirandola, there was no direct link (besides his name, also mentioned in J.Joyce's "Ulysses") to the kryptogramatic paper-chase instaured by Quilty.

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* Fri, 16 Sep 2005 Vladimir Nabokov Forum
From: Donald B. Johnson translation/ Pushkin and Dolinin
A.Dolinin: You touched upon a very important and almost unexplored subject: Russian poetry allusions in Shade's "Pale Fire." Beside the allusion to "The Prophet" you pinpointed there are at least two other ones to Pushkin: "Father Time, all gray" (cf.: "Iamshchik likhoi, sedoe vremia") and "consonne / D'appui, Echo's fey child" (cf. Pushkin's poem "The Rhyme" (1830) in which the nymph Echo gives birth to a "fey child" Rhyme), one to Tiutchev ("Hebe's Cup") and probably some more I missed. Together with the obvious allusions to Tolstoy (" Death of Ivan Il'ich") and Dostoevsky, they form an interesting Russian background in the seemingly American poem and reveal the presence of the bilingual author. As for "The Prophet" itself, it refers not to the Revelation but, as Pushkin scholars demonstrated long time ago, to the Book of Isaiah, 6...There are other Biblical and non-Biblical sources too, but this one is central.

** The seraphim took on a mystic role in Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man (1487), the epitome of Renaissance humanism. Pico took the fiery Seraphim-"they burn with the fire of charity"-as the highest models of human aspiration ... Pico announced, in the first flush of optimistic confidence in the human capacity that is the coinage of the Renaissance. "...If we burn with love for the Creator only, his consuming fire will quickly transform us into the flaming likeness of the Seraphim...The etymology of "seraphim" itself comes from the word saraph. Saraph in all its forms is used to connote a burning, fiery state."

Six winged Seraphim (after Pushkin's poem "Prophet"), 1905. By Mikhail Vrubel
www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Seraph -

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