NABOKV-L post 0017168, Thu, 9 Oct 2008 20:33:11 -0300

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[NABOKOV-LIST] Stylistic distortions and foot-notes
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In TRLSK Nabokov often gives hints to the reader about a particular pun or reference, but in a subreptitious way. I selected one example:
He confused solitude with altitude and the Latin for sun. He failed to realize that it was merely a dark corner.[...] he was steadily cutting himself away from Life... and that the switch would not function in his solarium.

The feeling I get is that he was still experimenting with language ( there was no need to bring up "solarium" a few lines later, excepet to stress his point).
And yet, I enjoy the mixture of letters ( alt/lat, skipping an obvious "latitude") and the powerful alusions ( SK's lonely dark corner gets no sun and is as high as an ivory tower).

In his Foreword to Bend Sinister his tone is more impatient:"The book teems with stylistic distortions, such as puns crossed with anagrams[...], suggestive neologisms[...]; parodies of narrative clich├ęs[...]; spoonerisms[...]; and of course the hybridization of tongues." Therefore, he adds: It may be asked if it is really worth an author's while to devise and distribute these delicate markers whose very nature requires that they be not too conspicuous. Who will bother to notice that [...]that the urchins in the yard (Chapter Seven) have been drawn by Saul Steinberg[...] Most people will not even mind having missed all this; well-wishers will bring their own symbols and mobiles, and portable radios, to my little party; ironists will point out the fatal fatuity of my explications in this foreword and advise me to have footnotes next time (footnotes always seem comic to a certain type of mind). In the long run, however, it is only the author's private satisfaction that counts."
Fifteen years later Kinbote is born...

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