Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016800, Wed, 23 Jul 2008 08:59:03 -0400

Re: Pale Fire 'book of names' is Pnin
Dear Tomasz,
I agree with you--as I think everyone would--that there are many threads that connect VN's novels. I'm not sure that is enough to surmise that Kinbote's "remarkable book on surnames" is, in fact, Pnin. I rather suspect that Kinbote's book is another marker placed there by Nabokov to show us that this dialogue never actually took place. In the scene, Shade and Kinbote together assert that there is an English translation ("Oxford, 1956") of the book; but a book on surnames would be almost impossible to translate. It would be even more difficult than Pale Fire! Why? Because many of the differences and connections between names and their origins would disappear when translated into a different language. Imagine, for instance, if a book on surnames were translated from English into German. What would we do with a last name like Steinmann? The German translation would say that Steinmann comes from the German and means "steinmann." I think Jansy once pointed out something similar in Pale Fire, where the Portuguese translation obliterated the difference between two words in the original English. In any case, as JF recently noted, the whole of the dialogue in C.894 is highly suspect.

If you have not read Barabtarlo's exhaustive annotations to Pnin, you might give it a look. He does a great job unpacking many of the name associations there.

Matt Roth

>>> On 7/23/2008 at 6:10 AM, in message <Q133924221-c58ce054889d4b4058a845f2bae8f0c1@pmq3.test.onet.pl>, "[Tomasz Kaminski]" <profesor_kinbote@POCZTA.ONET.PL> wrote:

I am not sure it it was stated here or not, but for me it is almost 100% sure
that 'book of names' mentioned in professors dialogue in Pale Fire
is "Pnin". I think that Pnin and Pale Fire (and possibly also Lolita)
are mysteriously interconnected. I have no strong evidences
for that, only weak - lost glove in pnin and pale fire, haze in lolita
and hazel in pale fire - but for that, that _pnin_is_that_book_of_names_
I am reasonably sure. I think that Pnin and Pale Fire are
complementary parts of one vision in different optics
(and maybe even crown jewels should be searched in pnin
as i wrote some time ago) Pnin is for me very strange book
because it is really a 'book of many names', enumeration
of names. I would appreciate if someone maybe would find once
more about it in Pnin - what that 'book of names' is all about
Tomasz Kami*ski

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