Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024724, Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:39:50 -0200

I- A collection of parallels between Nabokov's Chekhov lectures (LRL) and old postings related to LATH (A.Sklyarenko), clystère and, indirectly, to "Chekhov's gun":

from the VN-L:
AS: "According to Vadim, there exists an old rule--so old and trite that I blush to mention it. Let me twist it into a jingle--to stylize the staleness: The I of the book/ Cannot die in the book.". (7.1)
JM: Chekhov's gun is a dramatic principle: "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."

from Nabokov's LRL on Chekhov's plays:
Note that according to the rules, which I dislike so intensely, you cannot make a man kill himself between the acts, but you can make him make the
attempt if he does not die; and vice-versa, you cannot have a man bungle his shot in the last act when he retires behind the scenes to make an end of it.

(VN in a deleted passage, in his presentation of the play "The Seagull", "Chaika",cf. 289.)

These rules, related to novels and plays, are connected and challenged by VN, as AS (for example) has pointed it out concerning "The Eye".

II - In a more recent posting, while discussing the abstract of S.Funke's paper, I selected a passage from VN's "Strong Opinions":
"Nobody will ever discover how clearly a bird visualizes, or if it visualizes at all, the future nest and the eggs in it. When I remember afterwards the force that made me jog down the correct names of things, or the inches and tints of things, even before I actually needed the information, I am inclined to assume that what I call, for want of a better term, inspiretion, had been already at work, mutely pointing at this or that, having me accumulate the known materials for an unknown structure (this must correspond to S.Funke's "mnemonic devices") [ ] There comes a moment when I am informed from within that the entire structure is finished. All I have to do now is take it down in pencil or pen.(p.31,32). He states that "the greatet happiness I experience in composing is when I feel I cannot understand [ ]how or why that image or structural move or exact formulation of phrase has just come to me",61 (this must probably correspond to S.Funke's "mental images of memory").
VN asserts that "he thinks in images," not in words, and that his future works await for him in a non-Platonic ethereal realm, his testimony offers various entries into modern linguistic theories, surrealist ambitions qua "automatic writing" (certainly this is noto what happens with VN) and signifiers.

While VN discusses a writer's associations in "The Seagull" he may be offering examples of how he, himself, accumulates "fluff" for his "bird's nest." and the challenges his "inspiration" suscitates in him. He says about Chekhov's Trigorin in "Chaika": "All the details of his profession are remarkably well brought out: 'Here I am, talking to you and I am moved, but at the same time I keep remembering that an unfinished long short story awaits me on my desk. I see, for instance, a cloud; I see it looks like a piano, and immediately I tell myself, I must use that in a story. A passing cloud that had the form of a piano. Or, say, the garden smells of heliotrope. Straightway I collect it: a sickly sweet smell, widow blossom, must mention it when describing summer dusk "

Or, later on: " Nina. What are you writing?
Trigorin. Oh, nothing Just an idea. (He puts the book into his pocket. ) An idea for a short story: lake, house, girl loves lake, happy and free like a sea gull. Man happens to pass, a glance, a whim, and the sea gull perishes."

and: "Another thing to be remarked is this. To all appearances, and judging by his own subtle approach to the writer's trade, his power of observation, and so on, Trigorin is really a good writer. But somehow the notes he takes about the bird and the lake and the girl do not impress one as the making of a good story. At the same time, we already guess that the plot of the play will be exactly that story and no other. The technical interest is now centered on the point: will Chekhov manage to make a good story out of material which in Trigorin's notebook sounds a little trite. If he succeeds, then we were right in assuming that Trigorin is a fine writer who will succeed in making of a banal theme a fine story. And finally a third remark. Just as Nina herself did not realize the real import of the symbol when Treplev brought the dead bird, so Trigorin does not realize that by remaining in the house near the lake he will become the hunter who kills the bird."

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