Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026604, Sat, 7 Nov 2015 17:20:28 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] The name of L*lita - distortions,
mistakes, suppositions...
Jansy Mello: “…Annotations to Nabokov’s novels may become a pleasurable enlightening experience for the annotator himself and for all those who enjoy reading them, even when they prove to be wrong in the long end. In one way or another, misleading annotations may become the stepping stones towards pertinent faithful discoveries (who doesn’t enjoy Kinbote’s inventions?). True references and links shall not only satisfy the annotator and confirm the importance of scholarly research as such but, most of all, they’ll serve the author’s conscious intention by setting out the borders of his originality and cultural belonging.

Continuation: I am often reminded of Hopkins' verse while reading V.Nabokov (a sensation, an intuition, nothing more), sometimes it’s a cadence from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets or a jaunty gallop from early Wordsworth and even Mother Goose lyrics. Today I came across one of such inspiring lines, not in Pale Fire’s verses with its nail parings and scarf-skins, but in Bend Sinister, when I realized that I had invented the association between satellite and fingernail. The reference to a “fingernail moon” (Krug and Ember discuss Ophelia: “ Oh, of course I loved her like forty thousand brothers, as thick as thieves (terracotta jars, a cypress, a fingernail moon”) must be indicating the small white half-moon at the base of a thumb (the “lunulae”). And yet, what first came to my mind was G.M.Hopkins, in “Moonrise”: “I AWOKE in the Midsummer not to call night, ' in the white and the walk of the morning: The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe ' of a finger-nail held to the candle/Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, ' lovely in waning but lustreless." A particular strain of Nabokovian background music has disappeared from my horizon and I started to wonder about how many other “references and allusions” that had produced veritable symphonies for me were never intended by V.Nabokov. However, in spite of my mistake, I can count on my fingers the names of writers that produce this special literary daydream in me so there might still be a Nabokov-induced mood for my misguided association, namely, the constant pulse of irradiating private images and recollections. I wonder if this phenomenon also happens with other VN readers?

Incorrect associations can be revelatory. Although I’m certainly wrong to associate G. M. Hopkins to VN’s employ of words like “dappled” or “stippled,” when I pursue them to locate a quote in Lolita or in Ada a strange undertone (poor young Jesuit poet…) emerges.

Stippled armpit, pitiful, dry-lipped, dappled Priaps (“Lolita”); armpit showing a slight stipple, a dappled tree (“Ada”), with an iteration of vowels and consonants evolving a spell that is dispersed along various paragraphs and often lost - unless the different lines in which they are found can be perversely placed together to bring out a reference to a type of consciousness of unspotted evil by way of a visual predator’s “undercover” sexual fantasies used to obtain sexual relief…In isolation, they are harmless.

Perhaps I’m the only one to blame for the kinky montage… As, from another element present in the quote, by exchanging the lovely “a tactile sensation is a blind spot; we touch in silhouette” for the opposite process (in a sexual predator we’ll first encounter in “The Enchanter”) through which vision becomes equivalent to touch (it has a long “serious” precedent in various philosophical theories related to distance and the visual arts, though) .

“Every movement she made in the dappled sun plucked at the most secret and sensitive chord of my abject body.[ ] had visually possessed dappled nymphets in parks; [ ] he leaned against a tree in which a multitude of dappled Priaps shivered. [ ] " I simply did not know a thing about my darling's mind and that quite possibly, behind the awful juvenile clichés, there was in her a garden and a twilight, and a palace gate — dim and adorable regions which happened to be lucidly and absolutely forbidden to me, in my polluted rags and miserable convulsions; for I often noticed that living as we did, she and I, in a world of total evil, we would become strangely embarrassed whenever I tried to discuss something she and an older friend, she and a parent, she and a real healthy sweetheart, I and Annabel, Lolita and a sublime, purified, analyzed, deified Harold Haze, might have discussed — an abstract idea, a painting, stippled Hopkins or shorn Baudelaire, God or Shakespeare, anything of genuine kind. Good will! [ ] She was the loveliest nymphet green-red-blue Priap himself could think up. As I looked on, through prismatic layers of light, dry-lipped, focusing my lust and rocking slightly under my newspaper, I felt that my perception of her, if properly concentrated upon, might be sufficient to have me attain a beggar's bliss immediately; but, like some predator that prefers a moving prey to a motionless one, I planned to have this pitiful attainment coincide with the various girlish movements she made now and then as she read, such as trying to scratch the middle of her back and revealing a stippled armpit — but fat Haze suddenly spoiled everything by turning to me and asking me for a light, and starting a make-believe conversation about a fake book by some popular fraud.”

“but even if he were to will himself to mock that image so as to blast it out of all consciousness, he could not feel proud of his conduct: in those actual undercover dealings of his with Ada, by doing what he did and the way he did it, with that unpublished relish, he seemed to himself to be either taking advantage of her innocence or else inducing her to conceal from him, the concealer, her awareness of what he concealed.//After the first contact, so light, so mute, between his soft lips and her softer skin had been established — high up in that dappled tree, with only that stray ardilla daintily leavesdropping — nothing seemed changed in one sense, all was lost in another. Such contacts evolve their own texture; a tactile sensation is a blind spot; we touch in silhouette. Henceforth, at certain moments of their otherwise indolent days, in certain recurrent circumstances of controlled madness, a secret sign was erected, a veil drawn between him and her — [ ] Her armpits showed a slight stipple of bright floss and her chub was dusted with copper.”

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