NABOKV-L post 0017366, Fri, 21 Nov 2008 14:14:33 -0200

Re: QUERY: Pale Fire and rustling silks

Jerry Friedman [ to JM: I'm not sure I understand your question about the silk dress. The literal comparison is being aware of what Sybil thinks [...] as one could once hear a woman's dress rustling and be excited to know she was about to come into the room. Beyond that, I don't have anything, except that the line reminds me of "Is it perfume from a dress/ That makes me so digress?" from Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (which doesn't need my praise). If there's any connection, maybe Nabokov wants us to see Shade's dress image as superior, but there's probably no connection except in my mind.]

JM: The verses mention Shade's awareness of Sybil's "mental" approach, a feeling of another person's "presence in absence" falling in tune with one's emotions and thoughts and this is why ( the mental thing) I mentioned a "dress rustling." In the sense of "who else, or what rustling is approaching while we read PF?" You found the lines on "perfume from a dress" in Eliot's Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrochrock, which we may certainly smell or hear during Shade's bathtub musings and style (shall we disturb the universe?). As we find psoriatic Marat (and Hazel, and VN?)in the bath plus the book-keeper in Ada , and Cora Day in Shade's "gory mess" by other patterns, clues or shifing shards of glass.

It is almost impossible to follow most hidden allusions in VN and this is why I disagree with M.R ( [ to A.Bouazza:When it came to rare words, VN was the first to acknowledge their source[...]Besides, VN was a diligent reader of dictionaries] My small point was to note that VN avoided explaining that his use of skoramis is a direct allusion to Browning, which it clearly is. ) when he charges VN by his not having acknowledged Browning. It would have spoiled the associative "fleuve." and the emotional impact it promotes...

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: