NABOKV-L post 0017449, Fri, 12 Dec 2008 02:25:10 -0500

Re: Fw: [NABOKOV-L] Third Man and Pushkin's Requiem

Dear Jansy. I beg to differ. Why bring in Eliot at all? And if you're looking for contemporary sources, the phrase The Third Man more likely came from Graham Greene's book and the movie made from it. VN did not much appreciate Eliot, and the word "man" does not appear in the line from The Waste Land.

Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 13:53:54 -0200From: jansy@AETERN.USSubject: [NABOKV-L] Fw: [NABOKOV-L] Third Man and Pushkin's RequiemTo: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU

Two years ago in December there was a lively discussion with various contributors commenting on the "brocken specter" in connection to Pale Fire. I retrieved part of an old posting: " inspite of frequent list-headings on a "third man", Shackleton's writings describe three men crossing the ice while the brocken shadow came as a "fourth" presence. So, actually, what we find is a "Fourth Man". The third man comes from Eliot (The Waste Land: Who is the third who walks always beside you?) In Shackleton we find: "I know that during that long, and racking march seemed to me often that we were four, not three". One of them was Shackleton himself, the other two were described as Worsley and Crean."
I was reminded of these exchanges when I read VN's (incomplete) translation of Pushkin's "Mozart and Salieri"*. (V&V's,2008, p.168/9)
Here are the lines " a man, black-coated, with a courteous bow,/ordered a Requiem and disappeared./ [...]Now from that day to this my man in black/ has never come again. [...] I'm haunted by that man, that man in black. He never leaves me day or night. He follows/ behind me like a shadow. Even now/ I seem to see him sitting here with us,/ making a third." Salieri, at that instant, is ready to poison Mozart.
In Pale Fire, though, it is Kinbote who is haunted by dark nightmares and synchronizes Gradus' shadow with the flow of Shade's writing-hand.
If we consider the theme of a pushkinian "envy" having a reality in PF, we must admit at least two separate characters (envious CK and his idolized victim, JS).Shade remains as unperceptive as a shade dweller in Hades in relation to his own forebodings... The brocken specter, although gray or lilablueish, may be a protective (otherwordly) or a destructive (otherwordly) third party...

What a special gift to all of us this recent edition of Russian poems, translated by VN c/o B.Boyd and S.Shvrabin, has been...

* After I watched Milos Forman's "Amadeus" I tried to find a copy of Pushkin's original play, but the translation I got then was very unsatisfactory.
VN's version I just read recovered its powerful magic, perhaps due to the cumulative effect of all the other Pushkin and Russian (Baratinski,Tyutchev) poems, with their transparent reference to a non-platonic otherworld set in constant dialogue with the eartlhy one.

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