Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016311, Thu, 1 May 2008 19:24:47 EDT

Re: SIGNS: Paragraphs 1-3]

In a message dated 01/05/2008 12:43:09 GMT Standard Time, jansy@AETERN.US

Stephen Blackwell: "I agree with Anthony Stadlen's larger point, which is
that by 1948 it was impossible to make any assumptions about the identity or
reliability of any Nabokov narrator, no matter how superficially ordinary or
omniscient. In this particular case, this one sentence*, I take the situation
to be a variant of free-indirect discourse, where "fault-finding" reflects
the attitude of Mrs. Nameless... I think that rather than specify that the
narrator attributes moral agency to nature, one might instead suggest that the
narrator draws attention to the fact that (nearly?) all human beings attribute
such agency to nature..."
* 2nd paragraph. Light does not find fault. People, or God, find fault. To
assert that light finds fault is to fall into the Pathetic Fallacy. Therefore,
if the boy is "deranged in his mind" because he attributes moral agency to
inanimate nature, so is the narrator.

I agree completely with Stephen Blackwell. I did concede, back in December
2004, that some of the narrator's apparent assertions, such as that the young
man was "incurably deranged in his mind", would probably be better understood
as free indirect discourse, though I did not use this term. The same applies
to "fault-finding light". But it remains true, I think, that we are failing
as good readers if we accept these terms unquestioningly.

Anthony Stadlen

Search the archive: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/archives/nabokv-l.html
Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm