Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026688, Mon, 7 Dec 2015 10:44:34 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] Shade, Shakespeare & Shelley in Pale Fire

A Sklyarenko to JM’s question: "Are there any hints by V.Nabokov to
non-Russian speaking readers about G. Ivanov?" - Strong Opinions, p. 39;
Selected Letters, p. 289.
"JM: Or didn’t V.N. remember him when he has John Shade invoke
Shakespeare? (here I mean the American poet Shade, not Kinbote, not
Botkin…)" He did. At the beginning of his article Pisatel’ Burov (“The
Writer Burov,” 1951) G. Ivanov (who mentions a pale fire in his poem “Like
Byron to Greece – oh, without regret…”) quotes Burov’s words from his book V
tsarstve teney (“In the Realm of Shades,” 1951 [ ]

Jansy Mello: Thank you for the clarification of such items that escaped of
the context of VN’s novel.

For the benefit of the Nablers, I'll bring up the text indicated in SO,39:

"There was also the amusing case of Georgiy Ivanov, a good poet but a
scurrilous critic. I never met him or his literary wife Irina Odoevtsev; but
one day in the late nineteen-twenties or early nineteen-thirties, at a time
when I regularly reviewd books for an émigré newspaper in Berlin, she sent
me from Paris a copy of a novel of hers with the wily inscription "Spasibo
za Korolya, damu, valeta" ("Thanks for King, Queen, Knave") - which I was
free to understand as "Thanks for writing that book," but which might also
provide her with the alibi: "Thanks for sending me your book," though I
never sent her anything. Her book proved to be pitifully trite, and I said
so in a brief and nasty review. Ivanov retaliated with a grossly personal
article about me and my stuff…"

In Selected Letters, VN writes to Gleb Petrovich:…
"I read somewhere once your accountof Ivanov's attack on me in Chisla. In
your capacity of literary historian you may be interested in knowing that
the only grounds for this attack were the following: Madame Odoetsev had
sent me her book (I don't recollect its title - Winged Love? Wing of Love?
Love of Wing?) with the inscription [snip}. I panned that novel of hers in
Rul'. That demolition provoked Ivanov's revenge. Apart from this, I assume
he had gotten word of an epigram I had written for Khodasevich's album …"
(he depreciates Ivanov in it. And Petrov.)

I surmise VN forgot Ivanov’s line referring to “pale fire” because the poet
was so not important as to merit the choice of his poem as an inspiration
for a “moondrop title” for his novel. Probably John Shade would have either
forgotten or ignored it or… had a whiff of cryptomnesia.

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