Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024452, Sun, 4 Aug 2013 19:07:16 -0300

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Russian poets in LATH
I was not acknowledged by the Listserv the first time I posted this and I'm sending it again. See below.

-----Mensagem Original-----
De: Jansy Mello
Para: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Enviada em: domingo, 4 de agosto de 2013 19:04
Assunto: Re: [NABOKV-L] Russian poets in LATH

Alexey Sklyarenko quotes:from LATH "I recall regaling the company with one of the howlers I had noticed in the "translation" of Tamara. The sentence vidnelos' neskol'ko barok ("several barges could be seen") had become la vue etait assez baroque. The eminent critic Basilevski, a stocky, fair-haired old fellow in a rumpled brown suit, shook with abdominal mirth--but then his expression changed to one of suspicion and displeasure. (1.11)"

Jansy Mello: AS's quote reminded me of some other commentary by Nabokov related to a bungled translation for "barges/boats/barok" in a poem, one which I couldn't locate.
I leafed through "Verses and Versions" trying to make myself remember where I'd found it. This time something else caught my eye. It's related to the lines by Nicolay M. Karamzin selected and translated by Nabokov (V&V, 37) bearing the title "Two Similes"

"Life? A romance. By whom? Anonymous.
We spell it out: it makes us laugh and weep.
And then puts us
To sleep."

I was once again led to Pale Fire's John Shade and his commentator, Kinbote.

The present connection has probably been brought up here already - but I decided to risk repetition. After all, it's worth checking the distinction between the original similes, and Shade's or Kinbote's interpretations when they lay stress on "commentary" and "footnotes," or to a novel's (romance) "unfinished" nature.

"Life is a message scribbled in the dark. Anonymous"

or: "Man’s life as commentary to abstruse/ Unfinished poem. Note for further use.
CK: Lines 939-940: Man’s life, etc. If I correctly understand the sense of this succinct observation, our poet suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.

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