Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026234, Thu, 18 Jun 2015 09:45:35 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov's Ideal Arrangement: A Flat in NYC - a
few more examples
“Everything Plays” Thomas Karshan [ <https://www.academia.edu/t/bEef3-KaAFTLd-bo4xhA/2104731/Nabokov_on_Play_Breitenstrater_-_Paolino> Nabokov on Play: Breitenstrater - Paolino by <https://eastanglia.academia.edu/t/bEef3-KaAFTLd-bo4xhA/ThomasKarshan> Thomas Karshan ] ...“Breitensträter – Paolino” is a very literary and verbal account of boxing – the author’s red ink seeping across a skein of metaphor into the blood on the referee’s vest – and is punctuated according to the varying rythms and geometries of the sport: its quick flurries, its wary circlings, its dueling antitheses. In our translation we have tried to do justice to Nabokov’s dashes, staccato or metaphysical, his commas, apprehensive or explosive, and his inversions, abstract or gutsy, all so important in a piece devoted to testing how far art can go in formalizing even those parts of life that might seem most resistant – even boxing, even blood and pain.”

Present posting: Counting Nabokov’s footsteps from his other works (as cited in Nabokov’s Russians, by Leonard Michaels, in 1981, review of V.Nabokov’s “Lectures on Russian Literature” <https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/nabokov-lectures.html> https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/nabokov-lectures.html.) … on ideas in literature generally and in Tolstoy particularly, he says: ''... we should always bear in mind that literature is not a pattern of ideas but a pattern of images. Ideas do not matter much in comparison to a book's imagery and magic. What interests us here is not what Lyovin thought (as he watched a bug creep up a blade of grass) ... but that little bug that expresses so neatly the turn, the switch, the gesture of thought.'' In Nabokov's Gogol essay, excerpted from his book on Gogol and reprinted in the ''Lectures,'' he observes something similar to the above: ''The faceless saloon-walker ... is again seen a minute later coming down from Chichikov's room and spelling out the name on a slip of paper as he walks down the steps. 'Pa-vel I-va-no-vich Chi-chikov'; and these syllables have a taxonomic value for the identification of that particular staircase.'' Thus a physical action paralleling a mental action renders it kinesthetically. Nabokov's concentration on the poetics of superlative prose recalls his own prose.
[…] Nabokov argues for attention to mental or imaginative experience, created by individual artistic genius, in the concrete, technical minutiae of specific literary phenomena. He demonstrates the value and pleasure of this kind of attention, this kind of understanding […] consider Nabokov's translation and analysis of Gogol: '' 'A drowning man, it is said, will catch at the smallest chip of wood because at the moment he has not the presence of mind to reflect that hardly even a fly could hope to ride astride that chip, whereas he weighs almost a hundred and fifty pounds if not a good two hundred.' ''Who is that unfortunate bather, steadily and uncannily growing, adding weight, fattening himself on the marrow of a metaphor? We never shall know - but he almost managed to gain a footing.'' The chip of wood is art, the bather is Nabokov. In his hands the chip becomes a log, a raft, and he gains a footing, and he beckons us to come aboard[…]

And… a treat from 1941 [ <https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/poetry/antholog/nabokov/tongues.htm> https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/poetry/antholog/nabokov/tongues.htm ]


by Vladimir Nabokov

To many things I've said the word that cheats

the lips and leaves them parted (thus: prash-chai

which means "good-bye") -- to furnished flats, to streets,

to milk-white letters melting in the sky;

to drab designs that habit seldom sees,

to novels interrupted by the din

of tunnels, annotated by quick trees,

abandoned with a squashed banana skin;

to a dim waiter in a dimmer town,

to cuts that healed and to a thumbless glove;

also to things of lyrical renown

perhaps more universal, such as love.

Thus life has been an endless line of land

receding endlessly.... And so that's that,

you say under your breath, and wave your hand,

and then your handkerchief, and then your hat.

To all these things I've said the fatal word,

using a tongue I had so tuned and tamed

that -- like some ancient sonneteer -- I heard

its echoes by posterity acclaimed.

But now thou too must go; just here we part,

softest of tongues, my true one, all my own....

And I am left to grope for heart and art

and start anew with clumsy tools of stone.


Copyright © 1941 by Vladimir Nabokov. All rights reserved.

The Atlantic Monthly; December 1941; Softest of Tongues; Volume 168, No. 765; page 765.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L