Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025232, Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:35:17 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Fairy Chess Variants in Pale Fire
Dave [to JF] "While I'm about it, a follow-on on my off-list colloquy with
Jansy: Kinbote's note on "Marvell and Donne", beside the Fawn, also points
to the latter's Holy Sonnet X ("Death, be not proud..."), which enjoys a
certain resonance "For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow": in
particular, the third quatrian bolsters Carolyn Kunin's thesis of Shade's
transformation into Kinbote at a stroke [ ] BUT: the proximity of M&D to
"Hurricane Lolita" suggests a deeper allusion, not to the poems Kinbote
cites, but beyind, to Marvell's "Upon Appleton House" [ ]

Jansy Mello: Although I often see the point of CKunin's isolated arguments,
it's exactly this theory, the one related to Shade's transformation into
Kinbote at a stroke, that I find so hard to accept ( besides the ghosts
wandering about, from Sybil to Silvia, aso, although I suspect these are
then simply Kinbote's productions ).

What spiritual theory would V.Nabokov be here endorsing, parodying or both?
He must have had something in his mind. He was dead serious about his
intimations of the "hereafter" after all.

In connection to my googling together "Nabokov and Donne", I reassessed my
experience on how the ever growing pathways and resources for locating
quotes and references may both enrich and disturb us. For example, I got to
J. Lethem's article about "plagiarism" (in which we find references to
Nabokov and to Donne). He opened his text offering conjectures about
Lichberg's and Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," but his probing later explored a
very wide field. It offers insights worth examining because, although what
VN worked over relied almost exclusively on scholarship and the breadth of
his reading, new search-tools have altered the common reader's access to his
allusions and references - as J. Lethem details in his article, meddling
with a lot of what, in the past, relied almost exclusively on published
articles, books and profound scholarship. Consequently, its whirlwind
transformations have come to represent a new challenge into that former
solid realm.

From "The Ecstasy of Influence: a plagiarism" by Jonathan Lethem, 2007.


". Heinz von Lichberg, published his tale of Lolita in 1916, forty years
before Vladimir Nabokov's novel. Lichberg later became a prominent
journalist in the Nazi era, and his youthful works faded from view. Did
Nabokov, who remained in Berlin until 1937, adopt Lichberg's tale
consciously? Or did the earlier tale exist for Nabokov as a hidden,
unacknowledged memory? The history of literature is not without examples of
this phenomenon, called cryptomnesia. Another hypothesis is that Nabokov,
knowing Lichberg's tale perfectly well, had set himself to that art of
quotation that Thomas Mann, himself a master of it, called "higher
cribbing." Literature has always been a crucible in which familiar themes
are continually recast. Little of what we admire in Nabokov's Lolita is to
be found in its predecessor; the former is in no way deducible from the
latter. Still: did Nabokov consciously borrow and quote?"

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one
chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated. . . ."
John Donne.
..The same might be said of all art. I realized this forcefully when one day
I went looking for the John Donne passage quoted above. I know the lines, I
confess, not from a college course but from the movie version of 84, Charing
Cross Road with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. I checked out 84, Charing
Cross Road from the library in the hope of finding the Donne passage, but it
wasn't in the book. It's alluded to in the play that was adapted from the
book, but it isn't reprinted. So I rented the movie again, and there was the
passage, read in voice-over by Anthony Hopkins but without attribution.
Unfortunately, the line was also abridged so that, when I finally turned to
the Web, I found myself searching for the line "all mankind is of one
volume" instead of "all mankind is of one author, and is one volume."
My Internet search was initially no more successful than my library search.
I had thought that summoning books from the vasty deep was a matter of a few
keystrokes, but when I visited the website of the Yale library, I found that
most of its books don't yet exist as computer text. As a last-ditch effort I
searched the seemingly more obscure phrase "every chapter must be so
translated." The passage I wanted finally came to me, as it turns out, not
as part of a scholarly library collection but simply because someone who
loves Donne had posted it on his homepage. The lines I sought were from
Meditation 17 in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, which happens to be the
most famous thing Donne ever wrote, containing as it does the line "never
send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." My search had led
me from a movie to a book to a play to a website and back to a book. Then
again, those words may be as famous as they are only because Hemingway
lifted them for his book title.[ ] Literature has been in a plundered,
fragmentary state for a long time. When I was thirteen I purchased an
anthology of Beat writing. Immediately, and to my very great excitement, I
discovered one William S. Burroughs, author of something called Naked Lunch,
excerpted there in all its coruscating brilliance. Burroughs was then as
radical a literary man as the world had to offer[ ] Later, attempting to
understand this impact, I discovered that Burroughs had incorporated
snippets of other writers' texts into his work [ ] By then I knew that this
"cut-up method," as Burroughs called it, was central to whatever he thought
he was doing, and that he quite literally believed it to be akin to magic.
When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable
was the excitement. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors
and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at
all.[ ]

In a future posting I'll explore another paragraph in connection to one of
VN's analogies present in "Strong Opinions" and some arguments provided by
the surrealists and by Heidegger (I need to consult VN's palpable SM book

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