NABOKV-L post 0017199, Fri, 17 Oct 2008 21:15:28 +0100

Re: [NABOKOV-L] Midges in Lolita and remnants of the presesent
Jansy: BOTH novel (Booker Prize 1989) and title are very English. Ishiguro,
like VN, is what you might call super-bi-lingual, but with the difference
that he acquired English in England, his home since age six. In that
respect, Ishiguro may be more imbued than VN with the quirks of upper-crust
England and how its Butlers behave*. It¹s a fine genre, witness the
incomparable Jeeves! By one of those exciting coincidences, I¹ve just
iPodded from P G Wodehouse¹s ³Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin.²
I hope this doesn¹t trigger spurious Pale Fire speculation!

³Remains of the day² is indeed an evocative phrase familiar to Anglophones;
more literary, though, than as a practical expression for that vague period
when night is falling, bed calling. A similar poetic phrase, rarely used
conversationally, applies to the start of the next day: ³false dawn²
(³Dreaming when dawn¹s left hand was in the sky ... ³ Omar Khayyam)

³Remnants² has slightly different resonances from ³remains² although they
are synonymous in many contexts. The author¹s nightmare of ³remaindered²
books, cast off like ³remnants² of little value. VN¹s ³only picturesque
ruins remained of the day²
Is wonderfully ambiguous. Only memories left to speak of? I also hear the
Biblical warning: ³Sufficient unto each day is the evil thereof.² That is,
clean the slate before bedtime.

* I found this helpful quote:

³While some critics maintain that although Ishiguro¹s setting is not Japan,
the book retains a strong sense of the author¹s Japanese heritage, Ishiguro
is quick to disagree. He responds by saying that most of his life experience
has taken place in England and that his fictional influences are Britain¹s
writers. Ishiguro¹s choice of subject matter in this book‹and the realism
with which he depicts it‹demonstrates the importance of England¹s past and
culture to him.²
[ from ]


On 29/09/2008 14:38, "Jansy" <jansy@GLOBO.COM> wrote:

> After the movie The Remains of the Day ( directed by James Ivory) , from a
> novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, I inadvertently began to notice sentences which were
> worded in a similar way by VN ( the title of this novel is in Japanese, I
> understand). The first time happened during one of my readings of ADA, due to
> its closeness to a scene where there is a butler opening curtains, just like
> Anthony Hopkins: Puffing rhythmically, Jones set one of his beautiful
> dragon-entwined flambeaux on the low-boy with the gleaming drinks and was
> about to bring over its fellow to the spot where Demon and Marina were winding
> up affable preliminaries but was quickly motioned by Marina to a pedestal near
> the striped fish. Puffing, he drew the curtains, for nothing but picturesque
> ruins remained of the day. Jones was new, very efficient, solemn and slow, and
> one had to get used gradually to his ways and wheeze. Years later he rendered
> me a service that I will never forget.
> (What was the service puffing Jones rendered to Van? I cannot remember this
> part nor this butlerian name. The repetition ("puffing") and long-winded
> phrase about Jones' procedures astonishes me. There are tons of mosquitoes in
> Ada, but I haven't tried to spot them, yet...)
> The "remnant-residues" image must be a strong one, or very familiar to English
> ears. While I was perusing "Lolita", searching for midges, I found another
> sample:
> ... save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her [ HH's
> mother] subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you
> can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my
> infancy had set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day
> suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and
> traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry
> warmth, golden midges.
> Slanting rays of sun and midges are associated to a golden dust of the past
> that lingers on.
> There are myriads of ways to read "Lolita", of course, but two trends seem to
> predominate. They depart from different "feelings" or "fictional levels": The
> first one brings us Lolita as a flesh-and-blood, normal pre-adolescent seduced
> by a pervert, who displays trendy, rather vulgar, tastes. A young girl, robbed
> of her inheritance, home and history who never questioned her rights to these
> and who marvelled at her step-father's generosity when he bribed her with
> four-hundred bucks ( I hope I got the facts straight). Here is the place for
> expanding moral indignation, examples of sexy fashions, porn sites, publicity.
> The second is born through HH's style when he describes his thralldom by
> nymphets and all those recurrent golden midgets.
> HH's repentance ( unless it is proven to me...then life is a joke) carried me
> back to the first level, the "real" Lolita, without effacing HH'sds perplexity
> in relation to this other emotional reality, one that is associated to a
> refusal do accept any kind of loss ( there is no "the past is past"). HH's
> incapacity to accept religious comfort as proffered by a merciful god is
> mingled with attempts to achieve an impossible atonement.
> His words sound, to my ears, as a new kind of theological quandary. It is as
> if Humbert Humbert exclaimed: I'll only believe that God doesn't exist if He
> tells it to me in person...
> ....
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