Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017627, Tue, 27 Jan 2009 14:19:27 -0500

QUERY & THOUGHT: Fahles Feuer, Citing the List, Todd Rd
Dear list,

I received Dieter Zimmer's annotated Fahles Feuer in the mail the other day
(via Amazon Germany) and have been picking through it with my limited
knowledge of German and the hilarious but somewhat useful Google Translate
tool. It's worth the trouble, as DZ has quite a bit to say about the novel
and its various interpreters/interpretations. He admires Boyd's theory, but
doesn't buy it, in part because to assert a massive intervention by ghostly
directors takes too much autonomy away from the individual artist, whose
autonomy VN prized above all else. Also, I was slightly chagrined (but
honored?) to find my Hazel-Incest theory (along with Carolyn's original
Shade-in-Asylum theory) held up as a prime example of "interpretive hubris."
DZ was kind enough to withhold my name, and I of course would say that
really he was presenting a parody of my theory, a straw man, etc. But never
mind. (And I did find my name in better circumstances later on.)

Anyway, I was interested to see that DZ cited posts to the listserv
throughout his notes and even cites a post by Mary Bellino in the "further
reading" bibliography. On the other hand, there is material in the
footnotes which I think could be traced back to a discovery on the listserv
but DZ doesn't acknowledge a source. This got me to thinking about the
challenge of this forum in terms of giving credit where credit is due. In my
own articles on PF, I often struggle to decide which listserv posts are
worthy of a citation and which are not. Certainly discoveries of allusions
and sources should be cited, but what about basic insights about, or
interpretations of, VN's books. I can imagine that a newly-minted VN
scholar, upon discovering this listserv, would feel unduly burdened if we
said that he or she is responsible for citing everything that has appeared
here. So...I wonder if anyone has a rule of thumb when it comes to citing
the list. And do we believe that Nabokovians (whether listmembers or not)
have an obligation to be familiar with the contents of the list? What are
our obligations exactly?

Finally, reading all of that German led me to a possible insight about
Timofey Pnin's last address, 999 Todd Rd. Given that VN often uses the
number 9 as a marker for the border between two states (life-death,
sanity-insanity, innocence-experience), I think we might read "999 Todd" as
"999 Tod," which in German means "death." Pnin, happily, makes a miraculous

Matt Roth

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