Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025247, Tue, 1 Apr 2014 01:20:30 -0300

Shade's grief versus VN's "royal memories."
I’d been examining John Shade’s disappointment with his daughter Hazel [“She
might have been you, me, or some quaint blend:/ Nature chose me so as to
wrench and rend/Your heart and mineÂ…[ ]Alas, the dingy cygnet never
turned/ Into a wood duck”], after a chance encounter with Emma Bovary’s own
misgivings about her little girl, Berthe [MB,ch 6: "It is very strange,"
thought Emma, "how ugly this child is!"]


But, before I could grasp the true strength of his admission [ “ She was my
darling: difficult, morose — / But still my darling.”] and his wife’s grief,
I got side-tracked, as usual, by various online blogs on “Nabokov and
Flaubert,” even a 2013 article which I think hasn’t been posted at the VN-L,
approaching “The Tragedy of Mr.Morn” and VN’s “deeper truth,” one that found
its way into “Pale Fire”* (the focus now is on CK’s Zembla).


* - "Pieces," by Michelle Bailat-Jones - "Nabokov on Madame Bovary" Posted:
July 3, 2008 ;
Excerpts: “Of the essays I’ve read so far in Nabokov’s Lectures on
Literature, the one on Madame Bovary was the most complex [ ] ItÂ’s clear
he knew the book practically by heart [ ] For this particular lecture,
Nabokov doesn’t only focus on the actual text of “Madame Bovary” but he
brings in a discussion of FlaubertÂ’s letters to his then lover, Louise
ColetÂ…That added input adds a whole new dimension to understanding
FlaubertÂ’s intent. We often wonder whether great writers do things on
purpose in their books, or if critics see things or find
connections/allusions/hidden meanings the writer created by accident or
maybe wasnÂ’t fully aware of. The excerpts of these letters show that
Flaubert knew exactly what he was doing at all timesÂ…Nabokov taught Madame
Bovary to his students at Wellesley and Cornell using a translation by
Eleanor Marx Aveling (the daughter of Karl Marx) which is available at
Gutenberg. I donÂ’t know how many other translations were around at the same
time, but Nabokov has nothing but angry criticism for “the translators”…[ ]

Beautiful Failures: Nabokov and Flaubert's Early Attempts, Benjamin Lytal.
April 2013.

bert-anthony-novels.html Excerpts: "A first novel is like spring lamb,
tender and pink [ ]But then there are the real treasures, the rehearsals
that never got published, the artifacts that invite you to reconstruct what
an author wanted to do, before she did it. Did Jane Austen know, sitting
with “Elinor and Marianne” on her lap, that she would keep writing, that she
would never stop, that the rudiments on her page would refine themselves
into anything like “Pride and Prejudice”? [ ]Even Vladimir Nabokov, the
high priest of readerly hygiene, occasionally allowed himself this kind of
communion. He may have forbidden his Cornell students from identifying or
sympathizing with any fictional characters. But identifying with the author
was a different matter. Nabokov told his students of writersÂ’ travails,
urging them to consider the number of days Flaubert took to write the scene
with Emma and Leon in the Lion dÂ’Or [ ] Now we have an invitation to root
for the young Nabokov. His first major effort, “The Tragedy of Mister Morn,”
has been translated for the first time. “Mister Morn” is a verse play, but
its speeches are bright with Nabokovian gems [ ]Reading this tale of an
exiled king from a fantasy kingdom, one wonders if Nabokov realized, in
1924, that he was writing the first draft of “Pale Fire” (1962)[ ] It’s
“Mister Morn,” however, that seems most enticingly predictive of Nabokov’s
great work. The flutter of magic, the avuncular twinkle, the B-movie
danger—it’s all here.[ ] Every speech in the play seems to take some kind
of renunciation as its occasion [ ]NabokovÂ’s first, crazier effort is the
one that shows his ambition plain [ ]Call it the Icarian début. The kind
that might not even get published, because the author has flown too close to
the sun. Gustave Flaubert would be the archetype [ ] as the biographer
Enid Starkie notes, his friends knew full well that romanticism was on the
wane [ ]His next book would be a masterpiece of restraint called “Madame
Bovary.” But Flaubert always came back to his “Temptation.”[ ] We know
that Nabokov was rereading Flaubert when he was writing “The Tragedy of
Mister Morn.” He had already read all of Flaubert in French by the age of
fourteen or fifteen; in his thirties he would report that he had recently
read “Madame Bovary” “for the hundredth time.” Both writers are famous for
their obsessive perfectionism. Yet both wobbled between different modes;
both started their careers with missteps their friends could have corrected.
The history of their early failures speaks to a drive deeper than a
superficial scratching around for le mot juste. Nabokov knew he was a
magician. And Flaubert was a voluptuary [ ] Nabokov, in exile, had a
ready-made metaphor for impossible dreams: as the eponymous hero of “Mister
Morn” explains, “I’ll quietly live out the rest of my strange life / to the
secret tune of my royal memories.”… Flaubert and Nabokov…lunged early,
striking out with full faith in their own sense of direction. They got
nowhere; they went back and started in a different course. But each came
back, in the end.”

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