Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024683, Tue, 8 Oct 2013 18:05:55 -0300

Feuuilles d'alarme and Tolstoy's trains?
I became puzzled by the two references to the "tinfoil scares" (whose noise and effectiveness resulted from an improvement invented by Gradus). the first time in Zembla, in CK's note 171, with Gradus being chosen as the regicide, "the many hands clapping Gradus on his round back, and the dark exultation of the man as he received those rather treacherous congratulations. We place this fatidic moment at 0:05, July 2, 1959 - which happens to be also the date upon which an innocent poet penned the first lines of his last poem."
and the second, close to Lake Geneva, in note 408, when [f]rom far below mounted the clink and tinkle of distant masonry work, and a sudden train passed between gardens, and a heraldic butterfly volant en arrière, sable, a bend gules, traversed the stone parapet, and John Shade took a fresh card."
Because of the clink and tinkle rising from a vineyard (note 408) and the heraldic "diagonal" butterfly, I associated this sentence to John Shade's last lines with the "click clunk" of the tossed horse-shoes, Gradus's "diagonal" tie and the intimations of doom - to Nabokov's detailed analysis of Tolstoy's chronology and the metallic sounds related to Anna Karenin's train tragedies when Anna meets Vronski and Anna's suicide. I forgot to call attention to the unexpected reference to "a sudden train," also in note 408. Perhaps it will help to strengthen my point concerning a discreet reference to Tolstoy in PF...

Right now I'm reading VN's painstaking explanation about names and surnames, Royal houses and ancient nobilities in Russia, aso. In relation to Zembla, I remember only details about Queen Disa, Duchess of Payn (of Great Payn and Mone),. but is the Kingly reference "Charles Xavier Vsleslav" as the son of King Alfin, the Vague, enough to inform us about his noble ancestry? Why kill a King who doesn't wish to leave an heir to his throne?


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