NABOKV-L post 0017060, Wed, 17 Sep 2008 16:02:38 +0100

Re: [NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Sebastian Knight
JM/JA: in Russian language (and Latin, too!) one survives without overt
articles, def. or indef. Likewise, copula usually omitted! Facts often
exploited for comic effect. In recent ACM column, I wrote ³When I lectured
in Soviet Union ...² continuing to omit articles/copulas in paragraph in
obvious way, and adding footnote explaining why. Nevertheless, Editor added
missing ³the¹s,² ³a¹s² and ³is¹s² -- known in trade as ³textual harassment,²
or ³spoiling bad joke?²

This lack or vagueness in grammatical ³particularity/generality-markers²
raises deep linguistic problems beyond full discussion here** Suffice it to
say that Russian title for Goodman¹s [T]TOSK would not normally distinguish
³The Tragedy ...² from ³A Tragedy ...² We just see unqualified Russian noun
³Tragedy ...² Anything lost in translation? I have feeling that Russian
reading of ³Tragedy² in title WOULD be taken as PARTICUAR Tragedy, ³the²
(definitive) not ³a² (one of many!) Slavophone opinion invited. When we
come to V¹s TRLOSK, I would suggest that there¹s less ambiguity: REAL LIFE
(in any language) implies THE, one-and-only, REAL LIFE (beware of Unreal
Note, in passing, that the Folio title reads THE TRAGICAL HISTORIE OF HAMLET
PRINCE OF DENMARK! No doubt here that the Bard is claiming THE REAL THING ‹
forget all the other ³Hamlets² in circulation.

This doesn¹t explain why ³The² has been omitted in some English
bibliographies, but it might be a clue that texts have passed through
Russian editorial hands?

** Real schismatic BER-LOOD has been spilt! The Koine Greek of the New
Testament has a definite article (as does the Hebrew of the Torah), so can
clearly declare that Jesus is THE WAY ... ; The Vulgate Latin VIA, however,
can also mean A WAY (one of many). Newton¹s Latin Principia suffers similar
ambiguities affecting VITAL definitions: is Mass THE measure or A measure?
We await news from CERN. As in all matters linguistical, CONTEXT RULES OK!
All languages have the means of distinguishing ³the² and ³a² if they REALLY
want to, even when they lack specific, up-front articles. (Basque can use
³one² as ³a² as in etxe bat = a house, lit. Œhouse one.¹) To further confuse
us, in classical Greek, it¹s the absence of ³the² that implies ³a!²
Mysterioso. I believe that the Anglo-Saxon ³the² evolved from the
demonstrative ³that?² -- the ³pointing² theory of naming concrete objects.

Which brings us back to Jansy¹s comment on ADAM being granted the rights to
naming the animals in what Joyce called the Book of Guinnesses. A timely
gift yesterday from my daughter Michele, REMARKS ON MOSAIC COSMOGONY (B W
Newton [no relation], printed by Lea Wertheimer & Co, 1882 ‹ that is, a
shocked Biblical literalist¹s reaction to Darwin and the new science of
Geology), reminded me that earlier in the cosmic cycle, it was Jahweh who
named His own emerging creations:

³And the light he called Day; and the darkness Night ... He called the
firmament Heaven ...²

Quite strange, surely, since someone (presumably Jahweh) has already named
the entities ³light,² ³darkness,² and ³firmament!²
So early on in our Universe, we have the birth of language (but which
language, shared by God and Adam?) and divine SYNONYMS, to boot. The
craziness of literal-Genesis creationism comes out in the following answer
to ³How could Adam have named all the animals so quickly?²

The late Dr. Henry Morris pointed out in his Defender's Study Bible that it
would have taken Adam only about five hours to name around 3000 basic kinds
of animals (one every six seconds). This would have been adequate to
acquaint Adam with those animals and also to show him there was none
sufficiently like him to provide suitably close companionship* Adam didn't
have to go out looking for those animals to name either. Genesis 2:19 says
God brought them to him. And remember ‹ God created Adam perfect, so Adam's
brain would have been sharper than ours is. He could have named every major
group of cattle, bird, and beast of the field in hours.

* I¹m on the Welsh border where rumours of consenting bestiality persist. As
they sing in Handel¹s Messiah, O WE LIKE SHEEP!

PS: my morning newspaper has just arrived: THE TIMES! LA and NY can go f**k
themselves. God Save THE Queen!

THE Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 15/09/2008 21:32, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> J.A. In my Library of America edition of the book, pg. 53, the title to
> Goodman's biography reads The Tragedy of Sebastian Knight, with the article
> out front, and also lists it that way on page 49 as well [Re: The book "V" is
> named "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight". Mr. Goodman's
> biography received the title "Tragedy of Sebastian Knight."]
> JM: Three distinct editions of VN's novel do not carry the article and my
> "Library of America" edition ( 1966), from a collection of "Novels and Memoirs
> 1941-1951, advised and annotated by Brian Boyd, on page 4, doesn't refer to
> "The Tragedy". It offers only: "Tragedy of Sebastian Knight." A
> proliferating oversight?

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