NABOKV-L post 0014533, Fri, 29 Dec 2006 21:34:40 -0200

Pale Fire's Four Cantos; B. Boyd and Eliot's "Four Quartets"
Unfortunately I forgot to add a direct reference to the triptych in the poem Pale Fire in my last posting:

"the point is that the three/Chambers, then bound by you and her and me,/ Now form a tryptich or a three-act play/ In which portrayed events forever stay. ( 379-382)

Brian Boyd ( Nabokov's Pale Faire, The Magic of Artistic Discovery, page 185) observes "triptych or...three-act play resounds oddly with the note on the Haunted Barn, which is also a three-act drama...Both scenes show rare examples of Hazel interacting with her parents..."
and adds: " As if in memory of the first triptych or...three-act play," and in refutation of the second triptych's discordant course and conclusion ("Life is hopeless, afterlife hearless"), Hazel seems to offer her father a poem to outdo "Four Quartets", a poem that has its origins in a quartet of daughters much luckier than her in life, whose "end" is int their "beginning"...whose photographs in a closet become the basis for Alfin, Blenda, Charles and Disa and for the tunnel episode that in turn prompts her father to write his "Four Cantos," as his poem is subtitled." ( more about this, Baskervilles and Holmes, Eliot on pages 191-195 )

How could I have asked about "The Fourth" in PF while forgetting the subtitle, the ever present Four Cantos?
( Eliot's "third" is, after all, not a "third man" - it brings forth a shadowy rival, or even a child in conflict with the parental couple...)

PS: I don't know if we could stretch things a little ( etymologicallywise) and search for different meanings of the word "canto" ( Latin: "cantus")?
I don't know if I'm still under the influence of Drescher's pugnacious cardinals ( are they related to waxwings?), but these "four cantos" brought to my mind a rosette with the "four cardinal points of the compass". Longitude or latitude indicators are sometimes felt in Pale Fire ( New Wye and Palermo). The more distant rosette can be found in:
"Once, three decades ago, in my tender and terrible boyhood, I had the occasion of seeing a man in the act of making contact with God. I had wandered into the so-called Rose Court at the back of the Ducal Chapel... The sound of rapid steps made me raise my morose gaze from the sectile mosaic of the court - realistic rose petals cut out of rodstein and large, almost palpable thorns cut out of green marble. Into these roses and thorns there walked a black shadow: a tall, pale, long-nosed, dark-haired young minister ...".

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