Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025818, Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:54:13 -0200

Orthodox SIGHTINGS: Wikipedia's reference to Pale Fire in
"metalepsis" and various quotes by P.Douglass on Postmodern
Searching the wiki-entry related to metalepsis, stimulated by the article
on “Barth, Barthes, and Bergson: Postmodern Aesthetics and the Imperative of
the New,” [Paul Douglass, San Jose State University, 2012] Cf.
mplit_pub, I came to a reference to Pale Fire:

“In narratology (and specifically in the theories of Gerard Genette), a
paradoxical transgression of the boundaries between narrative levels or
logically distinct worlds is also called metalepsis." Â…In general,
narratorial metalepsis arises most often when an omniscient or external
narrator begins to interact directly with the events being narrated,
especially if the narrator is separated in space and time from these
eventsÂ…There are so many examples of forking-path and metaleptic narratives
by now that my recommendations will have to seem arbitrary. One of the most
thoroughly enjoyable constructions of enigmatic worlds within worlds is
Nabokov's Pale Fire (1962). A good short text is Robert Coover's The
Babysitter(1969). In film, a frequently referenced forking-path narrative is
Peter Howitt's Sliding Doors (1998)."

Paul Douglass (see former paragraph) writes:

“The image of life-energy (the “mobile”) as it endures an inevitable slump
into sentience also appears in postmodern fiction. Vladimir Nabokov ‘s
Lolita, for example, is filled with scenes and jokes based on mechanical or
habituated responses drawn from a Bergsonian theory of life—a comedic
technique based on the contrast between the fluidity of the living Ă©lan and
the stubbornness of material forms. As Michael Glynn argues, Humbert Humbert
“apprehends Lolita, Charlotte, and Valeria not as vital changing entities
but as his creatures, as static objects who will act in conformity with his
own preconceived notions” […]The novel is one long delusional escapade
haunted by the image of “Hourglass Lake,” in which Time has had its neck
wrung by a mind as desperate to stop the relentless flow of durée as Quentin
Compson’s in The Sound and the Fury.” [ ] Late in life, Nabokov spoke in an
interview included in Strong Opinions about the nature of durée réelle (the
flow of real duration) versus clock time. His vocabulary is expressly
“We can imagine all kinds of time, such as for example “applied time”—time
applied to events, which we measure by means of clocks and calendars; but
those types of time are inevitably tainted by our notion of space, spatial
succession, stretches and sections of space. When we speak of the “passage
of time,” we visualize an abstract river flowing through a generalized
landscape. Applied time, measurable illusions of time, are useful for the
purposes of historians or physicists, they do not interest me, and they did
not interest my creature Van Veen in Part Four of my Ada. He and I in that
book attempt to examine the essence of Time, not its lapse. Van mentions the
possibility of being “an amateur of Time, an epicure of duration,” of being
able to delight sensually in the texture of time, “in its stuff and spread,
in the fall of its folds, in the very impalpability of its grayish gauze, in
the coolness of its continuum” (Strong Opinions 185). Nabokov was keenly
aware that Time is all-too-human, known not through clocks, but in “the dim
hollow between two rhythmic beats, the narrow and bottomless silence between
the beats, not the beats themselves, which only embar Time. In this sense
human life is not a pulsating heart but the missed heartbeat” (ibid.). Time
outruns perception, giving rise to limitless tricks of illusion and
delusion, as NabokovÂ’s narrators, from Humbert to Pnin and Kinbote, testify.
NabokovÂ’s narrators, like FaulknerÂ’s (Vardaman, Darl, Quentin, Jason) are
mirrored in the azure produced by BarthÂ’s and PynchonÂ’s narrators in V., The
Crying of Lot 49 and GravityÂ’s Rainbow quest for their own pasts and
personalities, driven by the imperative of constant, exhausting
self-re-invention in the face of devolution and disintegration. PynchonÂ’s
paranoia was part of a contagious outbreak following World War II, which was
both the product and the cause of a continued feverish dismantling of
literary form—in this case, the novel—in which I believe one can detect the
continuing power of BergsonÂ’s aesthetic challenge to art that it must
perpetually reinvent itself. (Cf.p 40/41)

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