NABOKV-L post 0017557, Mon, 5 Jan 2009 12:28:53 -0200

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Re: Hugh MacDiarmid's "Lallans" and Nabokov's " my Lalage"?
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Earl Sampson [ on JM's question about Arnor’s poem.: "a dream king in the sandy wastes of time would give three hundred camels and three fountains" - "On sagaren werem tremkin tri stana/ Verbalala wod gev ut tri phantana]: "verbalala" corresponds to "camel". "Three hundred camels" in Zemblan would be "tri stana verbalala", and in Russian: "trista verblyudov."

JM: Because I know no Russian I was confused by the closeness of "tri stana/ tri phantana", and equally unable to see "verbalala/verblyudov/camel".
The predominant sound, for me, suggests "sadness" ( "triste") and, as I see it now, such "sadness" is not at all part of VN's intended aura of meanings. Probably not even should he have considered a of PF into French, Portuguese, Spanish... I wonder what is the Zemblan for "a dream king"?

Borges wrote, on Joyce, "Plenitude and indigence coexist in Joyce. Lacking the capacity to construct[...], he enjoyed a gift for words, a felicitous verbal omnipotence[...] for Joyce every day was in some secret way the irreparable Day of Judgement; every place, Hell or Purgatory.".
He also wrote: "Joyce is less a man of letters than a literature." (Ed.Weinberger's Penguin p.221).
I don't think Nabokov's talent with words lands him in "a felicitous verbal omnipotence", his multi-lingual literary skills are of an entirely different order...
In the Fall 2008 n.61 issue of "The Nabokovian" Matthew Walker published "A note on the translation of Nabokov's 'Slava'.", right after Anna Morlan's "Christian Symbolism and Nabokov's Artistic Philosophy.". M.W asks: "how can one speak with certainty about embodiment or readers in a poem whose 'secret' seems to render the body, the reader, and even its own proper name, 'slava', an 'empty dream'?" thereby inviting "a larger reapprasial of the question of Nabokov and metaphysics vis-à-vis his valorization of writing." His note ends with: "does a translation that disappropriates the very language of those who would need it to understand the original, that makes that language other, or 'something else', still, stricly speaking, communicate?...But if this is not so, and these Dutch ghosts are accidental, then 'Slava" and "Fame' present us with a strange case in which language, the medium of reflection in both poems, reveals a power to randomly generate spirits all on its own. In this sense, the author who says "I spoke" or "I have spoken" turns in translation into the most uncanny thing of all."


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