Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017152, Sun, 5 Oct 2008 15:51:15 -0400

THOUGHTS: VN and vanishing points, vectors, receding worlds
S K-Bootle:[...]As I mentioned, the same word is being used for
different entities: coincidences in fact; coincidences in fiction. An
author of fiction makes definite decisions when he/she invents a
narrative [...] VN’s own novels, each in a distinct way, create their
own mix of internal and external “reality” to which he is uniquely and
teasingly honest.

JM: One may try to be "uniquely and teasingly honest" at the conscious
level, but betrayals happen. Parapraxias (when we're licked by a lapsus
linguae) may appear as coincidences. But then, coincidences always need
a witness to deserve this name, unlike most vanishing convergences. In
relation to former posting on "Vanishing Point", Catherine Texier's
review of David Markson's "The Last Novel" can be found at:
www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/books/review/Texier.html?ref=review -
Vanishing point in German is "Fluchtpunkt". In French, "point de fuite".
I wonder what were the Russian terms in VN's 1932 "Podvig" used to
render a "fugal theme", as I harbor other doubts about the original
meaning of a couple of sentences, as on p.24: " Martin was faced with
two alternatives" (?) and, p.33, "not conducive to viatic excitement"
(the word "viatic" reappears in "Lolita").

S.E.Sweeney referred us to her "The V-Shaped Paradigm: Nabokov and
Pynchon" where she points out from the start "that the novel's
structure, as Nabokov's narrator describes it - 'two lines which have
finally tapered to the point of meeting' - is shaped like a letter V" .
While also noting that VN's relations with students were distant and
magisterial ("precluded genuine contact") she examines if "fate brought
them together", as in SK's novel.Although both Pynchon and VN "deviate
from the expected detective-story ending", they shared "affinity for
epistemology, self-reflexivity, experimental form, and generic parody"
which locate these novels "precisely where two other lines - modernism
and postmodernism - also taper 'to the point of meeting' ". Since The
V-shaped paradigm exemplifies the "detective story's formal design"
Sweeney concludes, by applying her paradigm to VN's and Pynchon's
"metaphysical detective stories" that these represent "the
quintessential postmodernist text." Her scholarly "detection" offers
lots of precious information, surprises and contrasting perspectives
that sometimes con-verge and sometimes, deliberately, di-verge or
result from "missed connections" to create an unexpected pattern of
"inherent convergence" on the prineted page, as it is found in their
novels and shared alliteracy.

CM Carnot [I have found that the Terra/Antiterra doubling works similar
to the unreliable narrator which is used throughout VN's work. This
works through the form of the novel [...]. Back on Earth we are
accessing a document that reports information from Antiterra. The final
document (Ada) is just as flawed through a similar method of access and,
as it were, translation.] In the first part of Ada, or Ardor, we are
informed about split time and space “because a gap of up to a hundred
years one way or another existed between the two earths”.Incongruity is
spacio-temporal... We could approach this description to another that
arrives two paragraphs later: “two chess games with identical openings
and identical end moves might ramify in an infinite number of
variations, on one board and in two brains, at any middle stage of their
irrevocably converging development” (A,18). There is an assertion that a
"sliver of light" of infinite variations lies between the "darknesses"
of definite beginnings and equally determinable endings. This might be
as true for chess matches as for the convergence of the "parallel"
spaces of Terra and Antiterra - should we accept that these two chess
games, or characters, represent a single one, now doubled because it is
apprehended by the two different brains that are exercising themselves
on only one board. Reader and book. Past and present...

Joseph Aisenberg: Appel interview: "Ideally, how shexperience or react to 'the end' of one of your novels, that moment when
the vectors are removed and the fact of the ficition is underscored, the
cast dismissed? What common assumptions about literature are you
assaulting?" Nabokov's response [...] I think that what I would welcome
at the close of a book of mine is a sensation of its world receding in
the distance and stopping somewhere there, suspended afar like a picture
in a picture: The Artist's Studio by Van Bock." [...]Appel [...]was so
stuck on the idea of Self-reflexivity in Nabokov's work that he tended
to see everything N. wrote in terms of parodying the "realism" of the
illusionary in fiction, which is undeniable on one level [...]--the
characters and narrators of the novels seem to lose a sense of
themselves as discrete beings and feel themselves dissolving[...] to be
right on the verge of recognizing that they are projections of Nabokov,
but don't quite..."

JM: Thank you, in particular, for bringing up that interview about
dismissed vectors and cast and VN's "receding world...a picture in a
picture". When he wrote about "happy novels" Nabokov joined "Glory" and
"Ada", but I think that only in the latter did he achieve the effect
he'd been originally striving for, already hinted by an optimistic
moment in PF (lines 849-852) The pen [hand]...physically guides the
phrase...toward faint daylight through the inky maze.

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