Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024569, Tue, 10 Sep 2013 16:33:00 -0300

Re: Bourne, Bourn, Bourneville, etc.
Matthew Roth: Readers of the list may (or may not!) be interested in a VN blog I've started here: kobaltana.wordpress.com.[ ] I am going to offer another example of what I call "education-by-Nabokov"-the kind of literary sleuthing that often takes one through the hinterlands of unimagined landscapes.As any "expert solver" of PF will tell you, one of the frustrations and delights of the novel is that it requires one to pursue vast, wide-ranging sources and allusions that fall well beyond the bounds of common literary knowledge. In this example, then, I want to note a collection of oddities picked up along the way-oddities that together form a strange phonetic web of (non)sense. Read the whole thing here: http://wp.me/p3PUy5-1c

Jansy Mello: "Education-by-Nabokov" is just right: a dedicated reader must research about geography, history, mythology, mathematics, astronomy, conchology, biology, world literature .. just name it! Matt Roth's investigation focused on Pale Fire, but there's Swiss "Bern", or German "Berlin" and, in ADA, all the Russian "bears" to consider.
In Pale Fire there's not only Kinbote compared to the botfly and the berne worm. but also a constelation: (line 119: That's Dr. Sutton's light. That's the Great Bear), a reincarnation as "a bear cub beneath a burning pine,/Or a book mite in a revived divine." (line 564) and a strangely antecipatory note by Kinbote (on Shade's parents, line 71, but reporting on Campbell and with a similar wording as in JS's verses )*:" He had immolated his life, so to speak, at the portable altars of a vast number of hobbies, from the study of book mites to bear hunting, and could reel off Macbeth ..."

Alexey Sklyarenko: "His [Shakespeare's] name is protean. He begets doubles at every corner". (Bend Sinister, chapter 7) Proteus is a sea god noted for his ability to assume different forms. Vadim, whom a demon is forcing to impersonate another writer, is VN's double. [ ] Van, Ada and Lucette are great-grandchildren of Prince Peter Zemski (1772-1832). In his poem Biblioteka (The Library) Prince Peter Vyazemski calls Voltaire Protey-pisatel' ("the protean writer").

Jansy Mello: While perusing ADA, I found an amusing mythological wordplay with Proust ("Proustian bed") and another type of "shape-changing" (albeit a forced and painful one) in the insterted reference to the "Procustean bed" : "But beware, anime meus, of the marcel wave of fashionable art; avoid the Proustian bed and the assassin pun (itself a suicide - as those who know their Verlaine will note)." **
This observation is certainly intended as a critique of the "marcel wave,".but I didn't catch Nabokov's aim at this point.

* Has anyone reported on Kinbote's "antecipation" by quoting Shade's lines in another context (mites/bears)?

** - Wiki: "In Greek mythology, Procrustes or "the stretcher [who hammers out the metal]", also known as Prokoptas or Damastes, "subduer", was a rogue smith and bandit from Attica who physically attacked people by stretching them or cutting off their legs, so as to force them to fit the size of an iron bed. In general, when something is Procrustean, different lengths or sizes or properties are fitted to an arbitrary standard"


Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/