NABOKV-L post 0017408, Sun, 30 Nov 2008 07:34:33 -0200

The singing gives birth to light
Re: [NABOKV-L] The singing gives birth to lightStan K-B:[...] PALE FIRE, indeed! What we have is HEAT as a form of energy, visible only in a very narrow frequency range.
[...] Will we see any write-ups of Prof Blackwell's Symposium on VN the Scientist?

JM: Indirectly, this is an important clarification on Shade's "Pale Fire", because it serves to indicate the importance of "lunar things" and their "narrow frequency range of visibility" in this novel (cf. dead Aunt Maud's ghostly index in "M").

Drivers in old-times were "chauffeurs" ("responsible for the heating") and still in modern days automobiles will start thanks to "ignition" or - should it fail or their batteries run down - by pushing them down a steep slope ( kinetic energy?). John Shade had problems with his old packard (whose wheels were stuck in the snow) but in this case it was Kinbote's impact on the ground that acted as an unexpected...chemical reagent!
Cf: "I lost my footing and sat down on the surprisingly hard snow. My fall acted as a chemical reagent on the Shades' sedan, which forthwith budged and almost ran over me as it swung into the lane with John at the wheel."

In the AY, Brian Boyd brought up information about Nabokov's relation to heating and furnaces before he compared these with VN's words in "On a Book Entitled Lolita". Here is VN's sentence, published in 1956 (Penguin,315) "Every serious writer, I dare say, is aware of this or that published book of his as of a constant comforting presence. Its pilot light is steadily burning somewhere in the basement and a mere touch applied to one's private thermostat instantly results in a quiet little explosion of familiar warmth." - which Boyd quoted to reflect VN's tactics on how "imagination fecondates the contact with an object to create an image". *
The same quandary came to life in PF in another mood:
Cf. Kinbote on Judge Goldworth's alphabetical, sunlight-ruled, calendric home: "The heating system was a farce [...] tepid exhalations of a throbbing and groaning basement furnace [...] By occluding the apertures upstairs I attempted to give more energy to the register in the living room."

* José Maria Guelbenzu on-line in "Babelia" (23-12-2006) wrote about Brian Boyd's AY, now translated into Spanish as "Los años americanos", where he praised Boyd's rendering of Nabokov's qualms with calefaction in the house he rented again in 1948 (& in which VN finished "Lolita"), and how Boyd showed their transformation, by metaphors, in VN's afterword to "Lolita."
"Vamos a un ejemplo: en 1948 un amigo les consigue a los Nabokov una casa; Nabokov advierte al amigo de que es un perfecto inútil en lo que respecta al manejo de los sistemas de calefacción individual. En esa casa termina su autor la celebérrima Lolita; Boyd repara en un texto del epílogo a la novela: 'Todo escritor serio, me atrevo a decir, tiene conciencia de que este o aquel libro que ha publicado constituye para él una presencia constante y alentadora. Su luz piloto arde sin cesar en algún punto del sótano, y un simple toque en el termostato privado se traduce inmediatamente en una tranquila explosión de ternura familiar'. Repare el lector tanto en las tres líneas (autoría, calefactor, círculo de gratitud familiar) que confluyen y se fecundan en la imagen como en el modo en que Boyd usa el texto para hacer notar el modo en que la imaginación fecunda el contacto con un objeto para crear una imagen." (cf. also L-Archives, 2007)

Search archive with Google:

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

Manage subscription options: