Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025605, Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:02:48 -0700

Re: RES: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] Parhelia
Dear Jansy,

I do recall that there are any number of constellations* referred to rather obliquely in Pale Fire, and that one of them was definitely Castor (Kinbote actually refers to himself as "the Great Beaver" because of his beard) and Pollux. As you point out, the artistic brother is immortal and the other not. An alternate name for Pollux is Polydeuces, meaning "sweet wine" which recalls some of the hints that Shade, at least in this life, is a lush. Also Shade says that he had had a brother, or at least hints at it - don't recall exactly. In the myth the twins, having different fathers, are half-brothers and other half-brothers turn up as Sylvia's sons.

Interesting to recall that Hazel is a "dingy cygnet" who never turns into, not the graceful swan one would expect, but the colorful "wood duck" - also known as the Carolina duck. Her Shade grandmother is a Caroline. 

I don't see the Confessions as throwing any light onLolita - but it's ages since I read Hogg. I don't see Lolita as having two narrators, since John Ray Jr's Preface stands outside the narration itself. Also, though there are some hints that Quilty and Humbert may be doubles, it seems to me to be a much more ambiguous situation than in Pale Fire.

Carolyn (not a duck)

* ----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Carolyn Kunin
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 9:14 PM
Subject: more Pale Fire Constellations
If in referrring to Kinbote as the Great Beaver, Nabokov was indeed indicating a reference to the constellation Gemini, then the pail, "situla,"turns out to indicate the constellation Aquarius. Situla is a star in the constellation Aquarius, but the name also is an alternate name, along with Ganymede,  for the constellation and refers to the source from which Aquarius/Ganymede pours out the water/wine. It seems that in most cultures this constellation is associated with rains, floods, fountains.

One interesting astrological interpretation reads "The beauty of Ganymedes and his flight through the air link [Situla] to the ideas of personal charm and aviation with which [the constellation] is certainly connected." The beauty of Ganymede has other Pale Fire implications, and reflects on "Hebe's Cup."

Ursa Major has some Pale Fire links:  
1) as indicating northernmost; 
2) the mythical Atalanta was suckled by a she-bear; 
2) the seven stars of the constellation are associated in some cultures with death, and may have something to do with the seven regalia-bearing courtiers that appear at the time of Queen Blenda's death
4) The Bear is associated with the chase (another Atalanta link) and perhaps "fugue."

Other constellations spotted in Pale Fire: Lyra,  Krater, Cygnus, Virgo, Felis, Canis, Cancer, Monoceros.

On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 7:47 AM, Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@OUTLOOK.COM> wrote:

[NABOKV-L] Parhelia
PS: I meant “Dioscori”.
By the way, I considered the “parhelion” as indicative of what appeared in an apparent close proximity to the sun, not necessarily the moon.
I forgot to clarify that John Shade would be “immortal” because he was an admired poet and his death would be similar to the transformation of Pollux into a star, like his brother Castor
De:Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] Em nome de Jansy Mello
Enviada em: segunda-feira, 11 de agosto de 2014 22:28
Assunto: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] Parhelia
Carolyn Kunin: “ 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...”
Jansy Mello: What an amazing – and pertinent- link between Js. Hogg’s novel and “Pale Fire”,  not to mention the Wikipedia photograph of a brocken spectre halloed by glory and a link to a “fourth wall”.
Do you think there’s another reference to be found in “Lolita” ( HH’s “confessions” that were edited and prefaced by John Ray Jr)?
Looking again at one of the pictures of a parhelion, trying to conjecture its relation to Kinbote/Shade as the sun and the moon, another idea popped into my mind. Sometimes Kinbote described himself as basking in the borrowed light of Shade’s sun (there are various, even contradictory, description of that kind in PF). Kinbote informs the reader of his being indicated as “the beaver” ( “castor”) and today I thought about Castor and Pollux in a special way. The twins ( “Dioscories”) were engendered by Leda but one grew from a human’s fertilized egg (Leda’s husband, Tyndareus) and the other from Leda’s encounter with Zeus disguised as a swan. Castor was a mortal, Pollux was immortal. After Castor’s death his loving brother asked their father to unite them in heaven as two stars, forming the constellation named “Gemini”. 
If our novelistic Castor (Kinbote) recognized his lack of talent to render Zembla in immortal verse, resorting to the poetic talents of John Shade, the death of the latter would result in their transformation into stars in the artistic firmament – for  Kinbote believed his inspiring stories had prodded Shade into recreating Zembla in verse before he could gain access to the poem.    
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