Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023325, Mon, 17 Sep 2012 16:25:11 -0300

Re: Paul Valèry "Eupalinos" and Pale Fire's architecture in the afterlife
(A retake)

"Pale Fire," poem by John Shade: "So why join in the vulgar laughter? Why/Scorn a hereafter none can verify:/The Turk's delight, the future lyres, the talks/ With Socrates and Proust in cypress walks...";
note to line 810, by C.Kinbote: "Here is a passage that curiously echoes Shade's tone at the end of Canto Three...."And if I had passed into that other land, whom would I have sought? ...Aristotle! - Ah, there would be a man to talk with!"

Jansy Mello: It was an interesting surprise for me to discover that Wallace Stevens examined and admired Valéry's Eupalinos Dialogues. His final query is closely related to Nabokovian issues about talking Shades ( Socrates and Phedro as real characters, Author/God's puppets, or rethorical figures?)
Here is a paragraph from the afterword ( included in the 1995 Brazilian bilingual edition of Valèry's Eupalinos, or the Architect), with a quote from Wallace Stevens's Preface to the American translation of Paul Valéry's Dialogues, by William McCausland Stewart, edited by Jackson Mathews, Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press,US.

"What in fact have they been talking about? And why is Valéry justified when, in his closing words, Socrates says: '... all that we have been saying is as much a natural sport of the silence of these nether regions as the fantasy of some rethorician of the other world who has used us as puppets!' Have we been listening to the talk of men or of puppets? These questions are parts of the fundamental question. What should the shades of men talk about, or in any case what may they be expected, categorically, to talk about in the Elysian fields?"

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