Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0013939, Tue, 7 Nov 2006 06:40:06 EST

Re: Help with otherworldly logic
In a message dated 07/11/2006 03:00:38 GMT Standard Time,

"I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would
not have been expressed, had I not known more."
I think I can understand just why Carolyn finds this an awkward sentence,
and at first I thought that she must be right, and that this was a Freudian slip
of VN's expressing some kind of unresolved ambivalence.

But actually it's perfectly simple.

He knows A.
Of this he can express only B in words.
B is less than A.
But he could or would not even have expressed B had he not known A, or at
any rate something between B and A.
That is, he would not have expressed even B had he known only B.

He is saying that it is not only sufficient, but also necessary, for his
expressing what he does express that he knows more than he does express.

Anthony Stadlen

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