Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024624, Wed, 25 Sep 2013 21:33:39 -0300

Strem of Consciousness: Tolstoy's Anna Karenin

Alexey Sklyarenko: "Arch and grandiloquent, Ada would be describing a dream, a natural history wonder, a special belletristic device - Paul Bourget's 'monologue intérieur' borrowed from old Leo - or some ludicrous blunder in the current column of Elsie de Nord, a vulgar literary demimondaine who thought that Lyovin went about Moscow in a nagol'nïy tulup, 'a muzhik's sheepskin coat, bare side out, bloom side in,' as defined in a dictionary our commentator produced like a conjurer, never to be procurable by Elsies. (1.10) [ ] In a letter of December 27, 1889,* to Suvorin Chekhov pairs Paul Bourget (the author of Le Disciple, 1889) and Leo Tolstoy:...

Jansy Mello: In this quote, from ADA, Nabokov reiterates what he observed in his LL on Tolstoy's Anna Karenin, concerning Tolstoy's priority in the use of "interior monologue" A. Sklyarenko encountered an interesting reference to both Paul Bourget and Leon Tolstoy in one of Chekhov's letters.

Not always reliable wiki, on "stream of consciousness" and "interior monologue," offers a brief historical overview* Wiki precursors are Lawrence Sterne, Edouard du Jardin and E.A. Poe**
The names of Tolstoy and Paul Bourget are not mentioned, nor Arthur Schnitzler's admirable "Fräulein Else" (1924). There is a reference to Schnitzler (paired with Joyce, Proust and Chekhov), in:DISPATCHES FROM ZEMBLA (Feb.04,2007) http://marcelproust.blogspot.com.br/2007/02/arthur-schnitzler-fraulein-else.html . The author notes that " the well known critic theatre and film critic John Simon says: 'For me, Schnitzler belongs in the vicinity of Proust, Joyce, and Chekhov. Like Proust, he can analyze psyches down to their subtlest, most secret tremors and convey this in complex, refined, and chiseled language. Like Joyce, and well before him, he put the stream of consciousness to supremely character-revealing use while also evoking the atmosphere and essence of a big city. And like Chekhov--both in drama and narrative--he brought to pulsating immediacy any number of dashingly histrionic or shadowily marginal lives, bestowing on most of his characters a fine compassion never veering into sentimentality, patronization, or special pleading.' [ ] Schnitzler may not have the linguistic virtuosity of the writers that Simon mentions but he makes up for that in how effectively he maps the inner life a character."
Despite an epigraph from Nabokov's "Pale Fire" and the title rrelated to "Zembla", the commentator doesn't remember Nabokov's priorizing Leo Tolstoy, either.

Brian Boyd in Ada Online observes, in relation to "stream of consciousness" http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada110ann.htm: 61.07-09: Ada would be describing . . . a natural history wonder, a special belletristic device—Paul Bourget’s “monologue intérieur” borrowed from old Leo: Darkbloom: “the so-called ‘stream-of-consciousness’ device, used by Leo Tolstoy (in describing, for instance, Anna’s last impressions whilst her carriage rolls through the streets of Moscow).” (See Anna Karenin, VII.28-30.) In his Cornell lectures on Tolstoy, Nabokov declared: “The Stream of Consciousness or Interior Monologue is a method of expression which was invented by Tolstoy, a Russian, long before James Joyce” (the published text of Lectures on Russian Literature, p. 183, becomes defective at this point). In 1967, while he was writing Ada, Nabokov wrote in his foreword to King, Queen, Knave, his and Dmitri’s translation of the 1928 Korol’, dama, valet: “Speaking of literary air currents, I must admit I was a little surprised to find in my Russian text so many ‘monologue intérieur’ passages—no relation to Ulysses, which I hardly knew at the time; but of course I had been exposed since tender boyhood to Anna Karenin, which contains a whole scene consisting of those intonations, Eden-new a hundred years ago, now well used.” (x)
French novelist and critic Paul Bourget (1852-1935) introduced the term in his novel Cosmopolis (1893), shortly after Édouard Dujardin based a novel on the method, Les Lauriers sont coupés (1888). (Although forgotten now, Bourget is represented by 21 works, including Cosmopolis, in the catalogue of Nabokov’s father’s library.) Richard Ellmann reports James Joyce discussing with Valéry Larbaud “the method of what Larbaud, borrowing a term from Paul Bourget’s Cosmopolis (1893), called the ‘monologue intérieur.’ ” (James Joyce [New York: Oxford, 1959], 534).
Van recalls Ada’s taxonomy and her literary observations in a passage of interior monologue as he leaves Ardis for the last time, 299.31-300.08: “She walked to the end of the platform in Tolstoy’s novel. First exponent of the inner monologue, later exploited by the French and the Irish. . . . Never, never shall I hear again her ‘botanical’ voice. . . . ” Lucette has a brief passage of interior monologue before her death, at 493.20-25. MOTIF: Ada’s taxonomy.
Further on, in ADAm we reach Van's own brief "stream-of-consciousness" episode, when we read "Maidenhair [ ] Thus named because of the huge spreading Chinese tree at the end of the platform....N’est vert, n’est vert, n’est vert. L’arbre aux quarante écus d’or... Ginkgo, gingko, ink, inkog. Known also as Salisbury’s adiantofolia, Ada’s infolio, poor Salisburia: sunk; poor Stream of Consciousness..."


* wikipedia: "In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue or in connection to his or her actions[ ]. Stream of consciousness and interior monologue are distinguished from dramatic monologue and soliloquy, where the speaker is addressing an audience or a third person ...it is primarily a fictional device.[ ]While the use of the narrative technique of stream of consciousness is usually associated with modernist novelists in the first part of the twentieth-century, a number of precursors have been suggested, including Laurence Sterne's eighteenth-century psychological novel Tristram Shandy, while in the nineteenth-century it has been suggested that Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" foreshadows this literary technique. Because of his renunciation of chronology in favor of free association, Édouard Dujardin's Les Lauriers sont coupés (1887) is also an important precursor to the stream of consciousness narratives of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf[ ]There are also those who point to Anton Chekhov's short stories and plays and Knut Hamsun's Hunger (1890), and Mysteries (1892) as offering glimpses of the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative technique at the end of the nineteenth-century. Marcel Proust is often presented as an early example of a writer using the stream of consciousness technique in his novel sequence À la recherche du temps perdu (1913–1927) but Robert Humphrey comments, that Proust "is concerned only with the reminiscent aspect of consciousness" and, that he "was deliberately recapturing the past for the purpose of communicating; hence he did not write a stream-of consciousness novel".

** - "Literature" - A variety of readings. by Michael Comenetz - April 17, 2010 http://michaelcomenetz.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/inconsequence/

Check for this text in the VN-L (excerpts only).
".... How and when did it achieve literary representation? Vladimir Nabokovclaims that this "method of expression . a kind of record of a character's mind running on and on, switching from one image or idea to another without any comment or explanation on the part of the author," was invented by Tolstoy for the occasion of Anna Karenina's last afternoon. There the device is in "rudimentary form," whereas James Joyce will advance it "to an extreme stage of objective record" (Lectures on Russian Literature). But do we regard it as essential that the artist present the stream as inward? There seems no good reason to, since however disorderly the phenomenon inadequately called a "stream" may be, its presentation has in any case the linearity of speech. Abandoning this requirement, we can easily discover the "record of a mind" before Tolstoy. Dickens has it in Nicholas Nickleby.[ ] ... But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. Our eyes cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions. Our thought is still more variable than our sight; and all our other senses and faculties contribute to this change; nor is there any single power of the soul, which remains unalterably the same, perhaps for one moment. The mind is a kind oftheatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.There are probably 18th-century examples-Fielding? Sheridan? Not Sterne, I suspect, for all his apparent wandering.I don't see why there may not be occasional instances of purely random sequences of ideas, although it seems that, as a rule, either thoughts are aroused by outer stimuli or else one thought leads to another.
It may be from Sancho Panza that [Molière's] Sganarelle learned to string sayings together, although Sancho's, while numerous, are much more to the point than his. Sancho can also tell a story as digressively as Mrs. Nickleby or Miss Bates. (Ellipses in brackets indicate omitted interruptions by others.)[ ]Sancho differs from Miss Bates and the others if, as I think likely, his digressions are calculated to serve his purpose.From such examples we may go further back to the rambling essays of Montaigne, the lists of Rabelais, and Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas, which promises so ill that the Host suppresses it, a fitting punishment for tedious digressiveness, a flow that goes on and on without excuse, its causes hidden in the mind of the perpetrator, rather like this post."

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