Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024985, Tue, 7 Jan 2014 19:05:03 -0200

Re: THOUGHTS: L. sublivens--B.Boyd response to J.Mello

JM: Could Nabokov have had this Muldoon in mind at the time he prepared his novel? Probably not, since Paul Muldoon was born on 20 June 1951 and would be too young at the time...[ ] He is also the president of the Poetry Society (U.K.) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.Coincidences? Prophetic powers?

Brian Boyd: Nabokov wouldn’t have known the poet Paul Muldoon but he did know an Irish name when he came across one (as in Clare Quilty). And in 1957 he was drafting a novel, Pale Fire, that at that stage, he reported to a publisher, would feature another man of Irish descent, President Kennedy—and this three years before Kennedy was elected.

Jansy Mello: You stimulated me to search after an Irish Quilty, using our sometimes opinionated modern encyclopedias online.
Here's from wiki:
Wikipedia: "The name 'Quilty' is an Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic name of "Caoilte" (pronounced: Kweelteh). There was a mythic Celtic warrior (c. 3rd Century A.D.) by the name of Caoilte Mac Ronan [ ] The book "If You're A Wee Bit Irish: a chart of old Irish families collected from folk tradition" by William Durning (1978) recounts an alleged ancestry of Caoilte back to Adam. James Joyce (1882–1941) in chapter twelve of his masterpiece, Ulysses, (1922) has "The tribe of Caolte" as one of the twelve tribes of Ireland in a biblical parallel to the twelve tribes of Israel [ ] Quilty is also a small town in County Clare Ireland, though this quilty is an anglicization of a different Irish word "coillte" meaning "woods". [ ]
Fictional characters with the name Quilty: Bridie Quilty, protagonist in the film I See a Dark Stranger (1941), played by Deborah Kerr; Clare Quilty is a fictional character in the 1955 novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Peter Sellers (1962) and Frank Langella (1997) played the role in two subsequent movies. The name Clare Quilty was inspired by the town of Quilty in County Clare."

Really? Why Quilty from County Clare, Ireland?

In a former posting, related to the word "livens" you mentioned three names: Swinburne, Scott and Longfellow. The last reference came as a surprise. Nevertheless it was always Longfellow's epic Hiawatha that came to my mind whenever I pondered about John Shade's use of "versipel"*.

Having time to spare, since it's the holiday season for me, I tried a quick search and, again thru wiki, came to the following:
"The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero. Longfellow's sources for the legends and ethnography found in his poem were the Ojibwe Chief Kahge-ga-gah-bowh" [ ]Much of the scholarship on The Song of Hiawatha in the twentieth century...has concentrated on its lack of fidelity to Ojibwe ethnography and literary genre rather than the poem as a literary work in its own right. In addition to Longfellow's own annotations, Stellanova Osborn (and previously F. Broilo in German) tracked down "chapter and verse" for every detail Longfellow took from Schoolcraft [ ] Intentionally epic in scope, The Song of Hiawatha was described by its author as "this Indian Edda". But Thompson judged that despite Longfellow's claimed "chapter and verse" citations, the work "produce[s] a unity the original will not warrant," i.e., it is non-Indian in its totality."

And the versipel "mittens"?
"...parodies began to appear immediately the poem was published. Edward Wagenknecht has called it "the most parodied poem in the English language".
In 1856, a slim book entitled The Song of Milkanwatha: Translated from the Original Feejee appeared, by "Marc Antony Henderson" (Rev. George A. Strong (1832–1912) and published by "Tickell and Grinne." It is a 94-page-long parody of Hiawatha, following it chapter by chapter. It contains the following passage:
In one hand Peek-Week, the squirrel,
in the other hand the blow-gun—
Fearful instrument, the blow-gun;
And Marcosset and Sumpunkin,
Kissed him, 'cause he killed the squirrel,
'Cause it was a rather big one.
From the squirrel-skin, Marcosset
Made some mittens for our hero,
Mittens with the fur-side inside,
With the fur-side next his fingers
So's to keep the hand warm inside;
That was why she put the fur-side—
Why she put the fur-side, inside.

Over time, an elaborated version developed that was sometimes attributed to Strong and titled "The Modern Hiawatha":
When he killed the Mudjokivis,
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside;
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

[ ] Lewis Carroll wrote Hiawatha's Photographing, which he introduced by noting (in the same rhythm as the Longfellow poem) "In an age of imitation, I can claim no special merit for this slight attempt at doing what is known to be so easy. Any fairly practised writer, with the slightest ear for rhythm, could compose, for hours together, in the easy running metre of The Song of Hiawatha. Having then distinctly stated that I challenge no attention in the following little poem to its merely verbal jingle, I must beg the candid reader to confine his criticism to its treatment of the subject." A poem of some 200 lines, it describes Hiawatha's attempts to photograph the members of a pretentious middle-class family ending in disaster.
From his shoulder Hiawatha
Took the camera of rosewood,
Made of sliding, folding rosewood;
Neatly put it all together.
In its case it lay compactly,
Folded into nearly nothing;
But he opened out the hinges
Till it looked all squares and oblongs,
Like a complicated figure
In the Second Book of Euclid.
* -J.S: lines 942-948
Throughout the house with, in my fist, a comb

Or a shoehorn, which turns into the spoon

I eat my egg with. In the afternoon

You drive me to the library. We dine

At half past six. And that odd muse of mine,

My versipel, is with me everywhere,

In carrel and in car, and in my chair.

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