Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016438, Fri, 30 May 2008 00:41:13 EDT

Re: balsam - Balsamo - Cagliostro

In a message dated 29/05/2008 23:54:41 GMT Standard Time, jansy@AETERN.US

Anthony Stadlen [answering "A real scientist would search for other
numerical references ( twelve, fourteen, twenty, ninety-two...) ... A terrible woman
aged forty, or a man? Forty diamonds, forty lies, forty thieves?] added
another example of "forty" from "Signs and Symbols" and promised a feed-back
about the meeting held in London with the final disclosure about this
short-story: Yes, brother Isaac was "a real American of almost forty years standing."
This is one of the peculiarities of Nabokov's style. It plays with what in
Gestalt theory is called "closure effect": when people tend to remember
information that remains incomplete, vague, expecting it to "close". In VN it almost
never closes

I swear that I am not trying to tantalise. Jennifer Coates, my new-found
neighbour who was the "mystery" speaker at the seminar of 11 May, certainly did
not claim to have a "final disclosure" or "closure". She did make a
contribution to a possible answwer to the question of what Nabokov meant by the
"inside" story of "Signs and Symbols". She asks readers to be patient while she
works on her idea and writes it up. I shall be writing a little about the
seminar soon, when I have dealt with some unexpected difficulties that have
occurred elsewhere. But please do not expect anything remotely like "closure".

Anthony Stadlen

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