NABOKV-L post 0014164, Fri, 24 Nov 2006 17:58:22 -0200

Fw: nabokov-list collection: six messages in tandem.

Message One: Life as a Commentary, a Message... JM to Jerry Friedman.

I promised to find JF the link bt. lines: 939-940: " Man's life as commentary to abstruse/ Unfinished poem. Note for further use." and lines 235-236: "Life is a message scribbled in the dark" because I remembered a reference in CK's Foreword, but I couldn't find it. Still, Kinbote's own commentary is exceptionally pertinent: "If I correctly understand the sense of this succint observation, our poet suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece".

Strangely enough, K doesn't read these verses in a self-referential mood, as when he stated: "without my notes Shade's text simply has no human reality at all"( Everyman's,page 28). Here he seems to have in mind a question, similar to Nabokov's, about what metaphysical "Eye" shall witness nature's perfect mimesis or accompany the evolutions of mankind.

Message Two: To Espy: Kinbote and Shade

Kinbote writes " I espied at last the top of my poet's head", using the same spelling used by Shade (unlike the meaning of espionage/ to spy) for "Espied in a bark".( Cf. LA, page 610). I find this rather curious, specially because this peculiar verb ( "to espy") seems to lie closer to Kinbote than to Shade. Jansy

Message Three: Sublimation or Sublimination, JM to Don. B.Johnson

Comparing Shade's "sublimated grouse" and Kinbote's description of the poet as "My sublime neighbor's face had something about it that might have appealed to the eye...His misshapen body...intelligible if regarded as waste products eliminated from his intrinsic self by the same forces of perfection which purified and chiseled his verse" ( LoA,page 453, Everyman's,26), I began to suspect that it confirms Don's hypothesis on the transformation of what is humble into a thing sublime, like Boyd's description of the metamorphosis of a clumsy resentful woman into a gracious generous Vanessa atalanta ghost.

And yet, if we read from the begining of the paragraph ( 25,LA 452/3) we find: " His whole being constituted a mask.John Shade's physical appearance was so little in keeping with the harmonies living in the man... dismiss it as a coarse disguise or passing fashion". No "sublimated" transformation is intended: these are Shadean words only. For Kinbote, the poet's essence might be "sublime", but his appearance is a mask, a coarse disguise.
There is no "sprung verse" leaping from one stage to another, no real metamorphosis: the body is something ugly to be shed to reveal the beauty of the soul. This seems to be quite in keeping with Kinbote's religious affiliations!

Perhaps, instead of "sublimation", we should examine "sublimination" ( according to Kinbote) if we want to explore the "sublimated grouses".
(a) Kinbote adds a third item to Shade's methods of composition: "if we count the all-important method of relying on the flash and flute of the subliminal world and its "mute command" (line 871)."
According to many, ghostly commands issue from this hidden world, instead of unconscious fantasies. Anyway, both "fantasy & fantôme" or "spirits &ghosts" obey a "subliminal command";
(b) Kinbote believes that his "commentary to this poem, now in the hands of my readers, represents an attempt to sort out those echoes and wavelets of fire, and pale phosphorescent hints, and all the many subliminal debts to me.";
Paranoic & delusional Kinbote succintly takes into account the various determining influences and "borrowings" included in Shade's poem...
(c) Kinbote "literally" surrendersto a poltergeist effect: "one winter morning Shade...saw that the little table from his study ... was standing in a state of shock outdoors, on the snow (subliminally this may have participated in the making of lines 5-12)."
(d) But, more important still, we discover that sublimination has a sublimatory effect!
Cf: "...worries in no way connected with her assumed her image in the subliminal world as a battle or a reform becomes a bird of wonder in a tale for children. These heartrending dreams transformed the drab prose of his feelings for her into strong and strange poetry" (notes to lines 433-434).
Kinbote not only considers himself a poet ( like someone, JF?, had already found out). He becomes capable of remorse and altruistic sentiments.

Message Four : Iridule

(CK's note to line 109): 'An iridescent cloudlet, Zemblan muderperlwelk . The term "iridule" is, I believe, Shade's own invention.'
My first idea was on how could Shade have invented a word that already existed in Zemblan vocabulary. CK and JS might be one and the same?

In my opinion, though, Kinbote had coined a new word to correspond to Shade's. He seems to know a lot about "Conchology", a kingly specialty in Zembla, interested in shells and pearls (cf. note on line 12).
It is easy to translate the Zemblan word: "a mother of pearl cloud", which Kinbote connects to other verses ( commentary to lines 633-634) about "strange nacreous gleams". Nacreous is a reference to a conch or shell's iridescence. But the connection CK made is strange, when we check it againt the original poem.
In it Shade claims:
"I tore apart the fantasies of Poe, and dealt with childhood memories of strange/Nacreous gleams beyond the adult's range",
whereas on line 109 we read "The iridule - when beautiful and strange,/...mountain range/ an opal cloudlet in an oval form/ Reflects the rainbow..."
Rainbow ( "arco-iris") reiterates the eye/iris, iridule theme in one, whereas both sentences share the words "strange" and "range", set close to "nacreous gleams".
But this is not enough!
[ In the same note CK also asserts that, above the word "iridule", Shade had added: "peacock-herl",i.e, an artificial fly to seduce fish: an "alder".
There is no comment for lines 633-634, but they come close to another "alder" ( Goethe's "Erlkoenig", a seducer of boys if we should believe Kinbote).]

Message Five: Finnigan's, Finnegan's or Finnegans?
In an old posting to VN-L, on Thursday, August 12, 2004, under the subject: Finnegan's or Finnegans in Pale Fire?,
R. Zahnausen mentions that in a German translation of Pale Fire he found a mention of the novel - "Finnegans Wake" is printed with an apostrophe = Finnegan's...In his afterword Andrew Field mentioned that the poor literary skills of Dr. Kinbote are dedectable by the false writing of Finnegans Wake. With an apostrophe! R. Zahnhausen discovered that "both of the 2 english/american editions (Pelican Classics and the Nabokov-Edition in "The Library of America") Finnegans Wake is written in the correct spelling. (no apostrophe)! " and adds that as "Jeff Edmunds told me the other day: "To complicate matters further, in my own copy of Pale Fire (Putnam, First Perigree printing, 1980), the title appears as "Finnigan's Wake," with a second "i" instead of an "e" and with the superfluous apostrophe." ...
What's the truth?
Brian Boyd answered him on Friday, August 13, 2004 on "Subject: RE: Finnegan's or Finnegans in Pale Fire? (fwd)": "As I recall, Nabokov made the correction in his own copy of the novel. Hence the LoA change."
Jansy: Indeed, my LoA copy ( 3rd printing) carries, on page 488, the corrected title: "Finnegans Wake". But I still found the same wrong spelling elsewhere.
In my 1992 Everyman's Library, on page 76, I found the same spelling of Jeff Edmund's Putnam,1980: "Finnigan's Wake"!
This same (mis)spelling is also found in the Brazilian 1985 translation by Jorio Dauster and Sérgio Duarte. Its second edition, printed in 2004, corrected this spelling.)
Would the correction inserted by VN have been made after Andrew Field wrote about Kinbote's mistake in his "afterword"?

Message Six: to Charles H.W. on Sprung Rhythm and GM Hopkins:

I found this explanation about "Sprung Rythm" in the internet ( no help for a "Russian sprung rhythm").
Sprung Rhythm, according to Edward Stephenson ( pages 35-6 of "What Sprung Rhythm Really Is" (Alma, Canada: The International Hopkins Association, 1987)
1. Falling rhythm - the scansion always beginning with a stressed syllable.
2. Feet of varying numbers of syllables - normally from one to four.
3. Feet of approximately equal duration, regardless of the number of syllables in a foot - i.e., isochronous meter.
4. Frequent use of clashing accents - two or more juxtaposed stressed syllables, with no intervening unstressed syllables.
5. Dipodic rhythm - two accented syllables frequently occurring within one foot, with the first having primary stress and the second having secondary stress.
6. Occasional use of "rove-over" lines - in which the last foot of a line does not end with that line but continues without pause into the beginning of the following line.
7. Rests, as in music, being allowed to figure in the scansion, taking up apart or (theoretically) all of a foot, but with a rest-beat substituting for the primary stress of the foot.
8. Use of "outrides" - extrametrical syllables that do not count in the scansion.
9. Use of alliteration, assonance, and rhyme (both end-rhyme and internal rhyme) as clues to the proper accentuation of the line.
It is a rhythm in which the major stresses are released or "sprung" from the line. The primary characteristic of this method is the placement together of one-syllable stressed words all in one line creating heavy stresses which often equals alliteration.

By coincidence, while I was perusing an old Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse (D.J. Enright) I discovered a poem by Gavin Ewart. His "Pastoral" begins with a line that only spells out a name: Dominic Francis Xavier Brotherton-Chancery, before blithely going on:
/ had an egg for breakfast every morning/and revelled in obsolete forms.For example/.../when his rough friend/ made savage fun of Gerard Manley Hopkins,/ jokingly speaking of 'The Burglar's First Communion"/ and hinting at the lust concealed in a work called ´Hairy Ploughman', / although he giggled Dominic was shocked - / such a lack of Faith!.../
The above poem seems to illustrate the amount of rejection GMH's still suffers, and not due to "lack of faith".

I hope you all enjoyed your family festivities for Thanksgiving in America.

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