Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024831, Tue, 26 Nov 2013 14:18:48 -0200

Re: [QUERY] Pushkin in LRL
Re: [NABOKV-L] [QUERY] Pushkin in LRLStan Kelly-Bootle [ to Carolyn Kunin..."I find most of what VN writes here incomprehensible, but I am not a native Russian speaker. ..What the hell does that mean??"] "...your question is a timely reminder that 'fluency' in English does not guarantee that one can always readily understand something written in English by a 'fluent-in-English' writer. We've all been agonizing over 'translating' between different languages, but it's helpful to ponder those often equally vexing problems facing communications between two 'natively-fluent' speakers in the same tongue. [ ] I think VN is in superb form throughout this essay[ ]The final sentence does have subtle ambiguities but they are interesting, under control and typically Nabokovian....[ ] it's damned-near impossible (some linguists/philosophers go further and declare it totally impossible) to avoid unintended ambiguities in Natural Language discourse. Right away, I'm exposed to this very risk! [...] But life is too short for endless digressions, and we must accept that with tolerance and practice, we can formulate close-enough approximations - let's call them useful 'gists.'

Jansy Mello: How extremely nice to hear from you again at the VN-L and in full steam.
Communication between two non 'natively-fluent' speakers, as well as the one between those who are, is as complicated as communicating with ourselves (heart and mind, Jekyll and Hyde, etc) The gist of the matter, as you point out, is often submerged by all sorts of squabblings and false misunderstandings (ars longa, vita brevis?).

In relation to the "version" V.Nabokov chose to keep hidden the idea of confronting a "perfect poem = perfect love/muse" is, apparently, sustained. However, Carolyn (off line) unearthed a divergent opinion,* with one element in it that carries us back to VN's bouts of misoginy (referring to Emma Bovary's vulgarity, or Lolita's, being veiled by love or artistic talent): "the perfection with which [Pushkin] endows its banality" and another that stands in opposition to VN: the transcendent aspect of what is "ineffable" (i.e: it cannot be "effed" - and here I'm considering its wondrous ambiguity ).


* - C.Kunin: In case you are still interested in "Ja pomiu chewednoyay" I did finally find John Bayley's book on Pushkin [ ]. Like me, he doesn't think it is a sincere homage to Anna Kern, whose sexual character, what we used to call a woman's reputation, was not pristine [ ].Bayley says of the poem "it has a kind of mischievously meaningful solipsism,' playing with the artifice of french sentimental poetry "and the perfection with which [Pushkin] endows its banality seems exactly to express his awareness of the nature of his relation to the girl to whom it is addressed." [ ]Bayley's interpretation of the subject of the poem is "time lost, wasted and regained" - close to my "age and loss of memory which in the end is overcome ..." [A]nyone interested in a short exegesis of the poem will find it in that book.
Cf. Bayley, John "Pushkin, A Comparative Commentary" (1971), Cambridge University Press

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