Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025600, Sun, 10 Aug 2014 18:30:21 -0700

Re: Parhelia
Dear Jansy,

The parhelion reminds me of two related optical phenomena, the "Brocken Spectre" and "solar glory," which reinforce - to myself, that is - the possibility that VN was referencing Js. Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner* which shares some characteristics with Pale Fire, the most glaring of which is that it is doubly narrated by an editor and the Sinner himself. It is in fact another doppelgänger novel.

I have also supposed that VN owned a copy of this book (originally published anonymously in 1824) in the 1947 edition  published by the Cresset Press, as the otherwise unusual and unnecessary word cresset pops up in Zembla - as a lamp in a shepherd's hut I believe. Come to think of it, James Hogg was, in fact, a shepherd and was known by the sobriquet the Ettrick Shepherd.


*See the Wikipedia article on the Confessions for a picture of the specter

On Sunday, August 10, 2014 5:15 PM, Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@OUTLOOK.COM> wrote:

[NABOKV-L] Parhelia
Charles Kinbote writes, in theForeword:"The short (166 lines) Canto One, with all those amusing birds and parhelia, occupies thirteen cards.Canto Two, your favorite, and that shocking tour de force, Canto Three, are identical in length (334 lines) and cover twenty-seven cards each.Canto Four reverts to One in length and occupies again thirteen cards..."
Jophn Shade writes inPale Fire(Canto One):                                               
                                                 “My picture book was at an early age
                                                 The painted parchment papering our cage:
                                                  Mauve rings around the moon; blood-orange sun;
                                                  Twinned Iris; and that rare phenomenon
                                                  The iridule — when, beautiful and strange,
                                           110   In a bright sky above amountain range
                                                 One opal cloudlet in an oval form
                                                  Reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm
                                                  Which in a distant valley has been staged —
                                                  For we are most artistically caged.”
I don’t know what kind of events related to rainbows and sun,in Shade’s poem, correspond to whatCharles Kinbotehas compared or summarized under “parhelia.”  I got so busy trying to understand the physical aspect of it that, becausemy memory included it in Shade’s poem as a generic feeling, I didn’t notice that I had no clue about its presence in the poem.  Today, looking in my photo-archives I came to a collection of pictures my grand-daughter Juliana took of what, as I understand it,is a “parhelium.”( I hope the singular is correct). The pale fire of the moon cannot be compared toit, can it?
                                                 <<...>> <<...>> <<...>>

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