Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023405, Wed, 17 Oct 2012 14:05:01 -0300

Re: THOUGHT: VN's aesthetic
PS: I didn't express myself clearly in my posting in answer to Stadlen's argumentationsl.
It just occurred to me that Sebastian Knight's attempts "to hunt out things that had once been fresh" indicated a desire to make them fresh again by means of stylistic tricks. Should this be the case, SK would be reviving words or, perhaps, engendering verbal ghosts.
I was always puzzled by the idea that VN would have adhered to the very individualistic belief in messages from an "afterlife" after he became older, i.e, that his different writings about "ghosts" were consistent (he once thought that he'd meet his father after his death).
The hypothesis that "dead words" may be turned into "literary ghosts" ( not to be confused with supernatural "entities") appealed to me, but I haven't yet given it much thought. Suggestions and arguments are very welcome!
-----Mensagem Original-----
De: Jansy
Enviada em: terça-feira, 16 de outubro de 2012 14:02
Assunto: Re: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHT: VN's aesthetic

Anthony Stadlen: I take it you know that, in March 1959, "The Vane Sisters" was published in Encounter, and VN set a competition to look for "a coded message that occurs on the last page of the story. A prize of one guinea is offered to the first five readers who crack the code." And, in the next issue, April 1959, VN offered his congratulations to the first five readers -- all named -- who had won their guinea by doing so. So he had hinted that there was a code, and roughly where it was, but had not yet revealed, the code. When something like this recurs in Pale Fire and Transparent Things, and is alleged by Alexander Dolinin already to have been the basis of "Signs and Symbols", is it not justified to suspect that the communication of the dead, possibly "tongued with fire beyond the language of the living" but in a rather trivialising, puzzle-setting, table-tapping sense, is a kind of underlying metaphysics of VN's oeuvre?

Jansy Mello: A well-argued point about a kind of underlying metaphysics... - and a wondrous quote ('tongued with fire...").
Here's a kind of confirmation from RLSK:"As often was the way with Sebastian Knight he used parody as a kind of springboard for leaping into the highest region of serious emotion. J. L. Coleman has called it 'al clown developing wings, an angel mimicking a tumbler pigeon', and the metaphor seems to me very apt. Based cunningly on a parody of certain tricks of the literary trade, The Prismatic Bezel soars skyward. With something akin to fanatical hate Sebastian Knight was ever hunting out the things which had once been fresh and bright but which were now worn to a thread, dead things among living ones; dead things shamming life, painted and repainted, continuing to be accepted by lazy minds serenely unaware of the fraud. The decayed idea might be in itself quite innocent and it may be argued that there is not much sin in continually exploiting this or that thoroughly worn subject or style if it still pleases and amuses."

I wonder if ghostly interventions are a part of the same scheme. The additions to "love at first sight" (a worn sentence) to the lines in Lolita represent the kind of "ghostly revival" as intended in the preceding novel and attributed to S.Knight, or following the beautiful demonstration of "Nabokov's art of counterpoint" brought up by Didier Machu. *


* - Didier Machu ..."In connection with "love at ever and ever sight" I just wish to add that Charlotte, falling on her knees, acknowledges Humbert as “her ruler and her god” (Vintage 91 / Penguin 102): “forever and ever” (68 / 75), says the letter she writes after praying the Lord and asking Him for advice re Humbert--while the latter availed himself of her being at church to say his own mute prayer ("Let her stay, let her stay . . .") and prevent "any act of God" (59 / 65) that would remove the golden load from his lap (a nice example of Nabokov's art of the counterpoint).
[EDNOTE. I also thought that "ever and ever" might echo the end of the Lord's Prayer, as recited in various Christian denominations: "forever and ever." -- SES]

Google Search the archive Contact the Editors Visit "Nabokov Online Journal" Visit Zembla View Nabokv-L Policies Manage subscription options Visit AdaOnline View NSJ Ada Annotations Temporary L-Soft Search the archive

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/