NABOKV-L post 0026133, Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:32:21 -0300

Nemo, Nikerbroker, Ulysses, Kinbote
While I was searching for references to Nemo and Nobody (thinking about the
Odyssey, particularly after hearing two words in Greek, “nostalgia” and
something sounding like the German “Niemand”, in a movie about photography,
cinematography and memory called ‘Ulysses’ Gaze’ - To Vlemma tou Odyssea -
by Theo Angelopoulos), and considering Kinbote and a trail of discussions in
the VN-L related to Nitko(b), I came to the “fictional double Mr.
Nikerbroker” in an article by Maria Lobytsyna. Curiously, I cannot remember
reading this part in Speak,Memory: one must always return to VN’s texts,
over and over and still the story continues over the slabs of pieces I’ve

Here is the quote:

“The Nabokovian protagonist in most of his American Works is mythopoetic,
forcing his imagination to conjure the smallest details of those places of
his youth – St. Petersburg and the Nabokov’s estate, for example – destroyed
during the revolution and the Civil Was of 1917-1921. Nabokov invented the
fictional double Mr.Nikerbroker – Mr. Nobody – to emphasise his obsessive
search for “nothing” and to reflect the indifference of cruelty of an
abstract history that moves people about like the chess-figures. Indeed,
the leitmotif of the chess-game becomes at once a crucial narrative device
and a symbol of human homelessness.”

The ‘Other Shores” of Vladímir Nabokov, Maria Lobytsyna

A review of the Angelopoulos movie reproduced the words said by Harvey
Keitel/ Ulysses in the end and informed me that it derives from Homer’s
epic: “After I return I shall arrive in another man’s clothes, under a
different name and with different facts. I’ll be back. This is the story of
humanity. A story that never ends. ”

I was reminded of Kinbote’s words concerning the assassin Gradus but, when I
checked it in VN’s text, I realized that I was, once again, under the
influence of Nabokov’s “referential mania”: nothing warranted any
connections between the nostalgic Kinbote/Botkin(Nitko?) and the Greek hero,
nor the fact that Jakob Gradus “also appears in police records as Ravus,
Ravenstone and d’Argus” (Ulysses’ dog, the first to recognize him under a
different guise, something that the initial Gradus didn’t manage to do…).
Although the lines I recollected bore no actual similarity to any Homeric
allusion, my eerie feeling remained free-floating and unaltered:

“I may pander to the simple tastes of theatrical critics and cook up a stage
play, an old-fashioned melodrama with three principles: a lunatic who
intends to kill an imaginary king, another lunatic who imagines himself to
be that king, and a distinguished old poet who stumbles by chance into the
line of fire, and perishes in the clash between the two figments. Oh, I may
do many things! History permitting, I may sail back to my recovered kingdom,
and with a great sob greet the gray coastline and the gleam of a roof in the
rain. I may huddle and groan in a madhouse. But whatever happens, wherever
the scene is laid, somebody, somewhere, will quietly set out — somebody has
already set out, somebody still rather far away is buying a ticket, is
boarding a bus, a ship, a plane, has landed, is walking toward a million
photographers, and presently he will ring at my door — a bigger, more
respectable, more competent Gradus.” (CK’s note on line 1000, the absent
line which our commentator interprets as reproducing the first line of the

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