Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0006077, Fri, 20 Jul 2001 12:31:03 -0700

[Fwd: Re: restraining Socrates and egging on Joan of Arc in
Speak, Memory]
Socrates claimed to be guided by a daimon, who spoke to him on
occasion. This is in many of Plato's dialogues.

Philip Nikolayev

> I am rereading SPEAK, MEMORY. AT the begining of Chapter II, VN
> discusses, inter alia, his "mild hallucinations." Speaking of their lack
> of profitability, he goes on to say "The fatidic accents that
> restrained Socrates or egged on Joaneta Darc have degenerated with me to
> the level....." ALthough I have often read this passage, today I
> suddenly stopped to wonder about "that restrained Socrates." The
> "egged on" Joan of Arc is clear enough. She famously heard voices that
> prompted her to her valorous deeds. But Socrates? And why "restrained"?
> Consulting my trusty Britannica, I learned that Socrates is said to have
> heard a voice from childhood on that would enjoin him NOT to do certain
> things--often of no great moment. The notable thing is that the advice
> was never positive, only negative.
> HENCE...VN's "restrained Socrates" nicely counterbalances Joan's
> positive advisory.
> I then discovered that the Luxemburg-Ilyin's annotations to the
> SYMPOSIUM Russian edition neatly clarified the passage. One of the many
> virtues of this collected edition.