Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026201, Tue, 26 May 2015 01:28:56 -0300

Art and Wit: similarities and differences - quotes from Nabokov
, Freud, Boyd.
PS: I didn't add Ada's initial reference to similarities and differences
because VN's intention was to criticize translators. On second thoughts, I
added it because a careful comparison between the original words and the
translators' "transfigurations" satirized by Nabokov also serve to suggest
false similarities produced by hasty and "more or less" vague

'All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more
or less alike,' says a great Russian writer in the beginning of a famous
novel (Anna Arkadievitch Karenina, transfigured into English by R.G.
Stonelower, Mount Tabor Ltd., 1880). ADA, I, ch. 1 ("All happy families are
like one another, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way") SO 123:
"The opening sentences of Ada inaugurate a series of blasts directed
throughout the book at translators of unprotected masterpieces who betray
their authors by 'transfigurations' based on ignorance and
self-assertiveness." Cf. B.Boyd Ada Online 3.01-08
<http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada11.htm> : "All happy families . . . 1858):

Here are two others: "Demon secretly wondered if the rather banal
resemblance of that Edenic girl to a young actress, whom his visitor had no
doubt seen on the stage in 'Eugene and Lara' or 'Lenore Raven' (both
painfully panned by a 'disgustingly incorruptible' young critic), should be,
or would be, commented upon. It was not: such nymphs were really very much
alike because of their elemental limpidity since the similarities of young
bodies of water are but murmurs of natural innocence and double-talk
mirrors, that's my hat, his is older, but we have the same London hatter."
Ada, I,2.

"There were those who maintained that the discrepancies and 'false
overlappings' between the two worlds were too numerous, and too deeply woven
into the skein of successive events, not to taint with trite fancy the
theory of essential sameness; and there were those who retorted that the
dissimilarities only confirmed the live organic reality pertaining to the
other world; that a perfect likeness would rather suggest a specular, and
hence speculatory, phenomenon; and that two chess games with identical
openings and identical end moves might ramify in an infinite number of
variations, on one board and in two brains, at any middle stage of their
irrevocably converging development." Ch,I,3 More in B.Boyd Ada Online
18.30-19.07 <http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada13.htm> : There were those . .
. . irrevocably converging development: MOTIF: relation
<http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/motifs.htm> .

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