Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024342, Sat, 15 Jun 2013 14:28:53 -0300

[NABOKV-L} A side effect: poetry of exile
C. Kunin: "Ovid like Dante and VN suffered exile, but I don't recall any Nabokovian references to that."

Jansy Mello: While searching online after a few S,M ready-made quotes for Nabokov's lines on "Ex Ponto", I came to:"Radiating Nests: Metalingual Tropes in Poetry of Exile" by Vladimir Zoric, from the University of Nottingham#. In his Abstract the author doesn't mention Nabokov, but his name appears in the list of bibliographical references and once in the main article*. At first sight, the tropes about the poetry of exile selected by V.Zoric would be equally important in VN's poem "Pale Fire," namely the American John Shade's preterists, oppressed by Zemblan Kinbote's lofty commentaries. Unfortunately further discussion lies beyond the scope of my abilities.**

V.Zoric compares the images found in "Lament nad Beogradom" by Milos Crnjanski, "to metaphors of interlinguality used by other poets in exile such as Ovid, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky, and Eva Hoffman. Four images are singled out: the capsule, the mountaintop, the nest, and the abyss." His conclusion focuses on Crnkanski, when his "article concludes by considering how the imagery of "Lament over Belgrade" converges towards some of these four tropes of interlinguality in creating the poem's metalanguage."

His reference to Nabokov comes through Ascher, Maria Louise. "The Exile as Autobiographer: Nabokov's Homecoming."Realms of Exile: Nomadism, Diasporas, and Eastern European Voices. Ed. Domnica Radulescu. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2002. 67-86 - and from his reading of "Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited." He chose from Ovid, "Tristia, Ex Ponto." Trans. A. L. Wheeler. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002.***
# Cf. Comparative Literature Summer 2010 62:3 201-227 // © 2010 by University of Oregon.

* - "However, such a segregative model, in its two versions, is not the only trope that has been articulated to represent the condition and processes of the writer's linguistic consciousness in exile. as we have already seen, Tsvetaeva created metalingual effect through the metaphor of the nest, the elevated place laboriously built from many branches taken from different trees. When in his memoir Speak, Memory Nabokov recollects how his father, a passionate cyclist, used to "take one's 'bike by the horns' (bïka za roga)," he creates a supreme interlingual pun based on the scriptural homology and phonetic similitude of the English word "bike" and the russian word "???" (bull or ox) (Nabokov 33). Since in russian taking the bull by the horns implies someone taking control over a situation, Nabokov consciously mistranslates ??? as "bike" and has his authoritative father taking the bike by its metaphorical horns (the handlebars). This is a supreme example of what can be called the "nesting" strategy. Just as in Picasso's Tête de taureau (1942) the animal's head is conjured by a metal bike-seat and its horns by the handlebars, so Nabokov uses an interlingual transfer to convey a point that would not be accessible without such interaction. like the capsule, the interlingual nest is an insulated place of incubation for a fledgling; like the mountaintop, it is an elevated point that gives a panoramic view. Unlike both the capsule and the mountaintop however, the nest does not keep languages separate one from the other; rather, it brings them together in a stereoscopic view made possible by the nest's composite construction." (219)

** - Other excerpts (selected at random)
"There is in modern poetry a distinct class of poems characterized by the presence of lexical units from more than one language. most of these poems are associated with some form of exilic displacement and thematically dwell upon that experience. Though often considered as an exceptional case of poetic discourse, interlingual poems of exile raise important challenges to conventional views about the relationship between language and poetry. First, they question the underlying assumption that poetic language is an essentially monolingual idiom independent of social and historical developments. Second, they present a problem for existing literary theoretical models, which usually deal with such highly atypical texts by bracketing at least one of the constituent features: either exile or poetry. Would it be possible to construct a form of poetic discourse that accommodates diverse linguistic codes in a way that would reflect fully the duress of the exilic context while still presenting a verbally coherent and aesthetically relevant response to that context? in order to address this question, in the first part of the article I revisit some of the most prominent theories of poetic language to assess their explanatory value for interlingual poetic sequences. Specifically, I claim that Roman Jakobson's theory of equational relations, if applied with some readjustments, may show how any interlingual sequence projects a derivative metalanguage with different codes united in an overarching metaphoric nexus. The second part asks whether this enforced code switching leads to images that are specific to the metalingual situation. While the core text in my analysis is Milos Crnjanski's "Lament over Belgrade," I also examine other instances of exilic interlinguality in poems by ovid, Tsvetaeva, Brodsky, and Milosz I argue that the apparent rhythmic and syntactic disparity in "Lament over Belgrade" and other code switching poems is countervailed by metaphors of outsideness that, on the one hand, project an imagined metalanguage and, on the other, reflect the human trauma of enforced displacement [ ] "In 'A New Type of Intellectual: The dissident,' Julia Kristeva argues for the emancipating value of exile and specifies language as one of the key symbolic fields that have to be estranged: "How can one avoid sinking into the mire of common sense, if not by becoming a stranger to one's own country, language, sex and identity? Writing is impossible without some kind of exile" (298) [ ] In Bakhtin "But this speech diversity achieves its full creative consciousness only under conditions of an active polyglossia. Two myths perish simultaneously: the myth of a language that presumes to be the only language, and the myth of a language that presumes to be completely unified" (Dialogic 68) [ ] Shklovsky's and Bakhtin's selfconfident inclusiveness has led to a certain abstractness in their conclusions. The problem is not just that Shklovsky and Bakhtin have not raised the question of how the difficulties in poets' acquisition of a second language are reflected in their poetic texts. at a more fundamental level, the two theorists fail to take into account the fact that, when exposed to languages other than their own, poets develop verbal strategies unique to their own experience rather than follow a predictable pattern of creativity [ ] Bakhtin's philosophy of language enables us to analyze interlinguality in terms of its being conditioned by, and conditioning in its turn, socio-historical contexts (including exile), but excludes poetry, which Bakhtin views only as an expression of monolingual consciousness; and Jakobson's model enables some degree of the analytic discrimination neglected by Shklovsky and vaguely metaphorized by Bakhtin. if my application of Jakobson's argument seems to push it beyond what it can strictly yield-that is, beyond a structural inquiry into the functions of language-it is important to grasp his concepts of selection and combination in their broad heuristic potential-as mental operations that organize experience-in the same way Jakobson himself does in 'Two aspects of language and Two Types of aphasic disturbances'."

*** - "it is impossible to distinguish between the disturbance caused by Ovid's lack of verbal communication in Latin and the one caused by his contact with vernaculars spoken in Tomis on the Black Sea, his designated place of exile. First, the loss of verbal memory that arises from the isolation in exile is paralleled by a veritable auditory invasion of foreign words that progressively take possession of the poet's lexical store. Second, through the same auditory channel, the rhythmic regularities of the foreign syntax penetrate and take control over the poet's power of versification...more recent descriptions of verbal disorientation in exile are often remarkably consistent with the image of linguistic death presented by the roman poet.[ ]whereas ovid does not go further than expressing the fear that the Thracian and Scythian tongues will infiltrate his verse, Crnjanski's "lament" deepens this anxiety as the perceived barbarisms take control of his auditory imagination and step into the actual poem.What for the Roman poet had to remain beyond the pale, in "lament" becomes the very fabric of the poem. The intrusion of foreign words, accompanied by the images of chasms and by catachreses, produces metaphoric equivalences tied together by the metaphor of the abyss."

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