Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016584, Thu, 26 Jun 2008 12:03:15 -0700

Re: bars: a correction

jansymello <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote: JM said: I originally thought that the dach's loot was a tampon, like Alexey, but now I think that it hints at Ada's deflowering during the burning barn scene. I return to this now only because of the sheer coincidence that approached the word "maiden", as I was told the guillotine is also named in English, and a lost "maidenhead".

J.Aisenberg: Well if you think this refers to the burning barn episode, what is the time frame, since the scene with Dack comes well before Van's narration of his night with Ada in the library, in fact before Ada's picnic birthday, where we are told that Madamoiselle Larivierre tried to explain to Ada about menstruation. Van tells us that Ada had had her period once or twice already at that point, so she teased Larrivier by telling her menstruation was all "bluff and nun's nonsense" I believe, that modern girls hardly ever did that anymore. Wasn't this N.'s retro hint that the incident with the cotton wadding was menstrual in nature? Also, if Dack's chase took place after the night of the burning barn would not this then give us two different morning after scenes? By the way, if you do read the scene with Dack as menstrual, as I definitely do, it has an interesting echo in Lolita, since Dolly apparently begins menstruating the day after the Enchanted Hunters, which is
why, poignantly, she insists on calling her dead mom in the hospital; it is also oddly secreted into the prose.

JM: I'm not sufficiently bright or informed to be able to agree or disagree with what you said about VN's "theoretical scientific brain", but I will stick to my permanent impression that his is, indeed, a brilliant and disciplined scientific brain. Stan K-B said: "One must avoid confusing the concepts of dimension and euclideanism!! VN had in mind, I suppose, the emerging Theory of General Relativity with its 4-dimensional locally-flat but globally-curved space-time, since this was, in fact, the first practical and stunning application of B-L geometries to the real world." and I trust his judgement, too, although I'm still baffled by how he connected Einstein's "4-dimensional" space-time ( geometry applied "to the real world") and VN's verbal-literary "real" worlds ( and I think I shall die in a permanent state of bafflement...). Besides, I love VN's "tricks of Rhetoric taken to bizarre extremes": why not add these, too? There are no theological or existencial
quandaries to fear, are there?

J.Aisenberg: Obviously I adore to the nth degree Nabokov's literary flourishes, but I very firmly feel he's morre artist-scientist than scientist-scientist, since one feels, or I feel anyway, that N. tends to use his scientific knowledge to try to propound a certain spiritual meta-view of things, rather than simply trying to understand the nature of phenomena (I don't think he really had any use at all for the runaway theories of post Eisensteinian thought), though I know I'm going to be quoted verbatim his thoughts on specificity over generalization etc. you can clearly see him using his science, in books like The Gift, Speak Memory, etc. to do away with Darwin and suggest a vaguely eaterny concept of intelligent design. He says somewhere for instance that mimickry in nature is too witty, convincing and precise simply to be a Darwinian protective device; it was meant by some uber-consciousness to be appreciated by people. There's a whole butt-load of assumptions in that
idea, none of which I believe, though it makes for a great Nabokovian stylizing framework and is hence fully justified.
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