Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025078, Wed, 12 Feb 2014 22:25:15 -0200

Re: Myers poem in Vane Sisters
Matthew Roth: "Way back in 1997, our list founder asked whether or not the poem ascribed to FWH Myers in “The Vane Sisters” was genuine or a Nabokovian invention [ ]The answer is a little of both [ ]. “What is this power,” he will say, “from which no organ and no thought is exempt or free?[ ] which can check the perilous habit and dispel the dolorous dream? which can turn loathing and abhorrence into desire, and sway with an impalpable dominance the very tides of the human heart?” (Proc. SPR, V. 7, p. 348) And here is the poem in “The Vane Sisters”: What is this—a conjuror’s rabbit,/ Or a flawy but genuine gleam—/ Which can check the perilous habit/And dispel the dolorous dream?
The particular subject of the Myers quotation is that of hypnosis. I wonder if that last sentence doesn’t have some relationship to the narrator’s situation. His descriptions of both Sybil and Cynthia display abhorrence, yet some desire for them compels him..."
[ ] While truffling for trifles in “The Vane Sisters” I set off on a quest to locate “John Moore, and his brother Bill [who] had been coal miners in Colorado and had perished in an avalanche at ‘Crested Beauty’ in January 1883.” [ I ] eventually happened upon a copy of The Annual Statistician and Economist...including, on Jan 30, 1883 the following: “Snow slide 3 miles from Crested Butte, Col., 5 killed, 25 injured.” ...That in turn led to a Dept of Agriculture document...it gives a brief account of the avalanche striking a coal camp and lists, among the dead, a William Moore. I presume this is the Bill Moore VN placed in “The Vane Sisters.”

Jansy Mello: Congratulations, again! The results may also serve to shed light on some of V.Nabokov's methods of composition by inserting factual items that are often unrelated to the gist of the plot but eerily suggest some sort of metaphysical intent or a web of coincidences.

His admirer, W.G.Sebald, explored this resource even more fully ((I just watched the DVD "Patience - After Sebald"- focusing on "The Rings of Saturn," with its melange of ancient and new information strangely interwoven in the story), when he brings to life forgotten little citizens, submerged towns, trivial objects. Julian Connolly's apt quote from "The Fight" illustrates this point:"Or perhaps what matters is not the human pain or joy at all but, rather [ ]the harmony of trifles assembled on this particular day, this particular moment, in a unique and inimitable way." (I cannot see why, for J.C "The major English novels would seem to refute that proposition.")

The relation you established between the poem in "The Vane Sisters" and the exact lines in FWH Myers's article by mentioning the underlying theme of hypnosis is very important considering the narrator's "abhorrence" associated to his unexplainable "desire" impelling him on a dreamily devious path filled with trivia.

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