NABOKV-L post 0017524, Sun, 28 Dec 2008 12:35:50 -0500

McDiarmid, Southey, etc.
Jerry Friedman comments:

--- On Thu, 12/25/08, jansymello <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:
> Re: [NABOKV-L] Thoughts: McDarmiad, Lochearnhead1. Stan K-B:
> Priscilla Meyer (FWTSHH) [pp 60-61] seems to think
> "Angus MacDiarmid" is a "Kinbote
> coinage," a made-up name by VN, hiding the identity of
> the very REAL Marxist poet HUGH MacDiarmid. I can attest to
> Hugh¹s reality (although he was born C M Grieve!) ]
> 2. Matt Roth : I don't have Priscilla's book with
> me, and she can speak for herself, but there is no doubt
> that Angus McD was a real fellow (or a real pseudonymous
> fellow) and that "incoherent transactions" comes
> from him, not Hugh. Is there a secondary allusion to Hugh?
> Hard for me to see it.
> 3.Jerry Friedman:

This part is Stan Kelly-Bootle, not me.

> Priscilla weaves a complex plot around
> this communist poet with hints of a Celtic USSR, with
> Hugh¹s "invented" LALLANS [...] being mirrored by
> CK¹s Zemblan[...] With unbridled "allusionism"
> you can postulate almost any thesis with bags of
> "wriggling" room against refutations. For example,
> has anything really changed now we have a REAL (even if
> pseudonymous!) Angus MacDiarmid (echoes of the EDISON FORD
> reification)?[...]

To reply to Stan, I think something has changed. For
instance, we can make connections with Southey. And
though I haven't seen it mentioned yet, Brian Boyd notes
in the LOA edition of /Pale Fire/ that Nabokov had
previously compared /Finnegans Wake/ to /Striking and
Picturesque.../ (and Swift's [!] letters to Stella--
there she is leaving her cometary trail again). To
me it makes a difference that the comparison was Nabokov's,
not just Kinbote's, though it gets us into the territory
of Authorial Intention. So does the possibility that
McDiarmid's book was written as a joke.

JF now: > An early quoter of the phrase
> "incoherent transaction" was Robert Southey[...]
> The book is connected with PF's themes of writing in
> English as a second language and of translation and (comic)
> mistranslation, as one of the N&Q contributors said
> McDiarmid's wrote in Gaelic and translated his writing
> himself.

> 4.JM (summing up before D.Z's additional comments):
> While reading the exchanges, quoted above, I was reminded of
> that one school-boy whose answer on "who was
> Homer" concluded: "Homer was not really Homer, but
> another guy with the same name..."

(Familiar to me as the famous professor who devoted his
life to proving that the author of the /Illiad/ and
the /Odyssey/ was not Homer, but another Greek with the
same name.)

> SKB, thru P. Meyer, notes that Angus MacD is a VN coinage
> that hides the identity of a real person; therefore the
> MacD-guy would not have been named Angus but, perhaps, Hugh.
> If we follow J.Friedman's argument, inspite of
> Hugh's reality (emphatically garanteed by SKB), the real
> McDiarmid was not this Hugh, but someone else. Here is
> JF's caveat : "has anything really changed now we
> have a REAL (even if pseudonymous!) Angus MacDiarmid"
> when he develops "PF's themes of writing in
> English as a second language and of translation and (comic)
> mistranslation."

Has anything really changed now you know that the
first quotation there is from SK-B and only the part
starting with "PF" is from JF?

> Babel or not, we are always a prey to "incoherent
> transactions," even in one's native language by the
> way*.

No doubt.

> I wonder if the invented "Lallans" reappeared in
> another guise in VN's later "Transparent
> Things". Here we find not Hugh's but R.'s
> comments on his publisher's vigor [...]: "Except
> that he wants me to write the wrong books. He wants [...] A
> Boy for Pleasure but would settle for The Slender Slut, and
> all I can offer him is not Tralala but the first and dullest
> tome of my Tralatitions"

I'm not sure what you have in mind. "Lallans" is a Scots
pronunciation of "Lowlands" and can mean Lowland Scots. The
Lallans "invented" by "Hugh Mac Diarmid" was an attempt at
making Scots into a literary language. Thus it was far less
invented than Zemblan--more like a mirror image of Lingo-
Grande. I wonder how it resembles and differs from the
development of literary Russian.

By the way, if Angus McDiarmid was a Gaelic-speaking
ghillie, he was from the Highlands, not the Lowlands.

> ( I don't imagine anyone concerned had considered Lacan's
> "Lalangue"...)

No doubt.

Jerry Friedman

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