Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023100, Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:15:36 -0400

Re: Pale Fire Commentary on Line 130]
Matt Roth's report about the stages in Nabokov's development towards his
final version in this one instance is revelatory, in the way that studies of
Beethoven's sketches of early stages of a theme or passage can be. (Though
quite what it reveals is a matter for discussion.)

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In a message dated 23/07/2012 20:57:55 GMT Daylight Time, mroth@MESSIAH.EDU

Dear list,
This is in response to the interesting insights of Barrie, Mike, and
others surrounding cricket, soccer, etc. I am busy writing an article on the PF
manuscript and just happened to arrive at the passage in question today.
I don’t want to pre-empt my own scholarship, but the fates should be
respected, so I am happy to shed a little light on the subject. In the
holograph manuscript, Kinbote’s note to line 98 (“On Chapman’s Homer”) includes a
line of conjecture as to what sport is being referenced. Nabokov tried out
both lacrosse and hockey but canceled those and settled on baseball and
basketball instead. This passage, however, was later removed and the current
first sentence of n. 130 was added. This sentence, in its original form,
does not mention cricket at all, but instead mentions “soccer or hockey,
our two main games.” So it seems that Barrie was right in finding the
insertion of cricket a bit odd. And the later change to “cricket” does seem to
show that Nabokov thought about what he wanted and chose cricket over
hockey in order to achieve some effect.
Hope this helped a little. Furthermore, I hope this will serve as an
example of why we need variorum editions of VN’s novels. We have the
Matt Roth

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