Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024325, Wed, 12 Jun 2013 21:50:41 -0300

tidbits related to ADA, Prooust and Lolita...
When I brought up a bit about ADA's orchids and Proust, I forgot to check VN's "Lectures on Literature," where we find his sketch a Catleya labiata (but no reference to Proust's euphemism) and his enthusiastic criticism and selections of "In the Search of Lost Time.." Having no direct access to the book now, I decided to try googling it and I found a rather "breathless" report about a Lolita precursor in "The Shadow of Young Girls in Bloom" (and about Nabokov) which, in my perplexity, I wished to share with the List.*

There was another surprise in store and, if I checked it correctly in the VN-L archives, it hasn't been mentioned here, although several other controversial articles and reviews by its author were discussed as far back as 1995. Since its information is quite different from the one found in B.Boyd's ADA online (moving from Lowden towards the old Boston rhymes "by reversing the letters of Cabots and God in the rhyming words and writing: "The Veens speak only to Tobaks / But Tobaks speak only to dogs. (Ada, NY: Fawcett, 1970, 103, 287, 346) ") I thought it deserved a mention here. **

* - Reading Proust, featuring Vladimir Nabokov | Mayuma s Diary for ...
Posted on May 20, 2012by mayumablog
Excerpts: When the famous novelist Vladimir Nabokov was invited to teach Entomology at Cornell University, in 1946, somebody from the Faculty Dean's Office remebered he was a writer and offered him a position to become a literature instructor. Vladimir Nabokov used this teaching opportunity in order to write two diffent books, one on teaching universal literature to undergraduate American students, the other on teaching Russian literature [ ]pieces of exquisite literary criticism, written by a novelist, forced to become a scholar [ ] Nabokov used the Scott Montcrief, after his death the difficult job being completed by a fellow named Blossom, who did quite well, according to the critic. Nabokov, a Proust declared fan, treated Scott Montcrief translation in a very creative way, he started his readings proofeading it and correcting the mistakes from the translation according to the original text, in French and he even renamed all the novels from this enormous roman-fleuve, for which he used the phrase "the greatest novel of the first half of our century." [ ] As most part of the readers already know, V.Nabokov has imposed a character to the English novel, Lolita, but the roots of this narrative type go beyond his works, she is related to several literary tradition, first of all Russian literature has a large gallery of young girls [ ] She might have another root in the famous Poe s novel Annabel Lee but the most obvious one should be In the Search of Lost Time, especially the chapter In the Shadow of Young Girls in Bloom. As a matter of fact in the begiining part of the novel, Humbert Humbert, voicing all the fears and obssesions experienced by the author himself, declares in a sort of dramatic monologue: "Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer."
There are a quite a few important Proustian themes that the readers can gather reading Nabokov s novels and stories, the themes of recapturing time and the relationsihip between memory and identity, jealousy, loss, even sickness and death, are quite recurrent in his fictions. Humbert Humbert is alluding to a passage from the last chapter of Proust roman fleuve, Time Regained, the book that concludes the 4,300-page novel and that even few critics have actually read even they boasted they had read. There the narrator recalls how he met Albertine, a young girl met by the sea, in a seaside spa called Balbec, and also reenacts many of his memories of Gilberte, his friend in his teen years. the girlfriend of his adolescence, Proust's narrator, Marcel, describes the pain of ageing while the memories often remain trapped: "Indeed nothing is more painful than this contrast between the mutability of people and the fixity of memory, when it is borne in upon us that what has preserved so much freshness in our memory can no longer possess any trace of that quality in life, that we cannot now, outside ourselves, approach and behold again what inside our mind seems so beautiful, what excites in us a desire (a desire apparently so individual) to see it again, except by seeing it in a person of the same age, by seeking it, that is to say, in a different person." [ ] Dolores can t satisfy the needs for a static past image as Albertine could not satisfy Marcel urge to recapture the past. In the final chapter of Time Regained, the middle aged Marcel starts his preparations to withdraw from society and starts writing his novel. He tries to get help from Gilberte, the daughter of Swann and Odette, their love story haunted by jealousy is described in Swann's Way, the first volume of the cycle, analysed step by step inLectures on Literature. Valdimir Nabokov enumerates themes and unveils the different layers of complex Proustian metaphors [ ]"

** - [ ]"In a letter to the New York Review of Books on December 4, 1969, Nabokov caustically condemned Lowell's translation of a poem ...[ ] In Strong Opinions Nabokov deplored, in Auden's translations ... [ ] Nabokov's blast cunningly set up the two poetical translators, conflated as Lowden (Lowell-Auden and its variants) [ ] In chapter 38, he assigns to Lowden an awkward paraphrase of a fine passage from Mikhail Lermontov. [ ] The most substantial attack appears in Part Two, chapter 5, [ ] Nabokov outdoes himself with a brilliant pun on malheureux-Malraux [ ] In his most cunning allusion, he parodies the old saying that in Boston "The Cabots speak only to Lowells,/ And the Lowells speak only to God" [ ] Jeffrey Meyers, FRSL, Berkeley, California
(NB: these very short excerpts result from my attempt to comply with COPYRIGHT 2012 Notes on Contemporary Literature No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.) "Nabokov and Robert Lowell" by Meyers, Jeffrey - Notes on ... www.questia.com/library/.../nabokov-and-robert-low... Nabokov and Robert Lowell. - Free Online Library www.thefreelibrary.com > ... > January 1, 2012?


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