Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024731, Thu, 31 Oct 2013 08:53:29 -0200

Trivia: on dogs, cats (Tobermory) and wistful thinking

I -
"First of all, dismiss ideas, and social background, and train the freshman to shiver, to get drunk on the poetry of Hamlet or Lear, to read with his spine and not with his skull." Kinbote: "You appreciate particularly the purple passages?" Shade: "Yes, my dear Charles, I roll upon them as a grateful mongrel on a spot of turf fouled by a Great Dane."

Shade's playful answer to Kinbote ( Hamlet/Great Dane) had escaped me until a few days ago I saw a TV detective-series in which an investigator was bitten by Hamlet, a Great Dane (of course).
Nabokov's ghost is always ready to make his comic presence felt...

II -
While selecting quotes, I came across C. Kinbote's note on "debris" (line 550): "I wish to say something about an earlier note (to line 12). Conscience and scholarship have debated the question, and I now think that the two lines given in that note are distorted and tainted by wistful thinking. It is the only time in the course of the writing of these difficult comments, that I have tarried, in my distress and disappointment, on the brink of falsification."(Everyman's,p.227/228)

I wonder if this 1962 use of "wistful thinking" by V.Nabokov is an original creation of his, probably mocking the freudian employ of "wishful thinking."

I found only the following (non-authoritative) in the internet: "The phrase 'wishful thinking' shows up in written English in the 1930s. It is probably one of the stable of phrases introduced or resemanticized by the new field of psychoanalysis. Someone who engages in wishful thinking allows a belief about upcoming events to be shaped by what the person hopes will happen rather than by what a common-sense analysis suggests will be the outcome. 'Wistful,' which at one point referred to a state of careful attention, is now used in English to describe a certain kind of feeling, a certain set of the eyes. A "wistful look" indicates an eager-but-at-times-melancholy countenance.The formation and evolution of "wistful" may have been influenced by the word "wishful." The two words have enough independence in modern English, however, to make their confusion a certifiable error. [ ] "Wistful thinking" is a common expression, with over 20K hits on Google, many of them non-duplicates. Some of the web pages use "wistful thinking" correctly, of course, referring to an eager, yet sad, state of mind, but the vast majority of these hits seem to be substitutes for "wishful thinking." When "wistful" lends some its semantics to the understanding of the phrase, it is an eggcorn." CF.http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3921


In my former posting about cats and the oak Chat., I bungled the chronology (a bit) Of course, Pale Fire, having been written long before ADA, cannot refer to ADA. The link was made by my atemporal ears (all those ch-ch-ch) - and I still believe that PF's epigraph simply intends to warn readers to "mind the cat."
In RLSK there's also an uncalled for cat that suddenly appears (like a bunch of violets)and rejects milk. According to V. it has "celadon eyes."

In the past I tried in vain to recollect what British author wrote about a speaking cat (like the one in Pushkin's poem). I discovered it quite recently. It was Saki. The short-story is "Tobermory" http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/l_tober.htm

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