Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023562, Fri, 4 Jan 2013 23:43:04 +0100

Re: QUERY: Love and lust in VN's stories?]

More material to try and comfort my hypothesis of authorial intent through a particular constellation of motifs:

Another example of Hell as the place
where the sensual meeting with the attractive woman takes place is
Invitation to a Beheading. When Cincinnatus finally obtains a visit
from in wife, instead of the romantic, if tormenting, tête-à-tête
he expected and even thirsted for, she comes with her whole
nightmarish family and even the furniture!, stark deprivation of
privacy being here too a feature of Hell.

However Hell, in Nabokov's fictional
device must not be construed as moral punishment, as God's
retribution for the sin of Lust. It is merely that it is the natural
element in which Marthe and her likes dwell and this world in which
she moves naturally is just nightmarish for a man with Cincinnatus'
personality and disposition; and it is just impossible to avoid being
contaminated by this nightmarish (a word Nabokov uses repeatedly)
atmosphere of meaninglessness if one craves for a relationship with
that kind of intensely seductive woman.
Also, note the presence of damaged
children here too

In Spring in Fialta, underneath its
seemingly charming, carefree, superficial feel, Nina's world smacks
of despair and Hell too.
At first, Fialta is intensely
seducing, intoxicating as carnal closeness with an adored body. To
say it bluntly, you feel in Fialta as in hot rumpled sheets after

"I'm fond of Fialta; I'm fond of
it because I feel in the hollow of those violaceous syllables the
sweet dark dampness of the most
rumpled of small flowers, and because the altolike name of a
lovely Crimean town is echoed by its viola; and also because there is
something in the very somnolence of its humid Lent that especially
anoints one's soul"

The evocation of the violet colour
and flower, of the violin shape, the humidity, the somnolence, the
alliterations of the first part of the sentence, like the murmur of
half-articulated words of endearment... this is typical Nabokovian
poerotics, to use a term coined by Maurice Couturier.

But soon, elements of cheapness and
decay lend to the place a disturbing feel. Soon, the whole world
surrounding Nina turns nightmarish, even literally hellish
when the narrator, meeting Nina's husband Ferdinand for the first
time, witnesses an excrutiating parody of the Last Supper:

"... Ferdinand was presiding; and
for a moment his whole attitude, the position of his parted hands,
and the faces of his table companions all turned toward him reminded
me in a grotesque, nightmarish way of something I did not quite
grasp. But when I did so in retrospect,the suggested comparison
struck me as hardly les sacrilegious than the nature of his art

And as a real Antichrist,instead of
instructing his disciples in love and charity, Ferdinand shows them
how to make horrible fun of the weakest.

But back to Signs and Symbols and the
particular Hell of the old couple linked to the presence of Elsa and
her likes. Even if Elsa belongs to the past, her representative still
lives next door to the old couple: the old flirt Mrs Sol that
Nabokov, I think, intends as the embodiement of Elsa's Future, just
as in Laughter in the Dark, a decayed overpainted old flirt lives
next door to Margot and reminisces about the past, when men were
after her, she says. Here too, Nabokov prefers the device of
juxtaposition without comment, instead of the classical and more
explicit 'as if' of a metaphor.

To finish, I'd like to propose a riddle
to interested list-members: I said that in Pale Fire (the poem) too,
but in a subdued key, the same 'constellation' of damaged child and
disharmonious couple occurs; did anyone notice it?
Laurence Hochard

Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2013 18:27:33 -0500
From: nabokv-l@UTK.EDU
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] QUERY: Love and lust in VN's stories?]

-------- Original Message --------

Re: [NABOKV-L] QUERY: Love and lust in VN's stories?

Thu, 3 Jan 2013 09:35:18 -0500

Alexander Drescher <alexander@MUSICWOODSFARM.COM>

Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>


This is a very interesting and creative reading.

But there is still something to be said for wondering about the

author's intention; thus avoiding Pooh's chase after the Woozles.

Sandy Drescher


EDNote: The existence of the maid motif across several works appears to
justify the hypothesis of authorial intent here.

On Jan 2, 2013, at 5:55 PM, laurence hochard wrote:


> More on Signs and Symbols (and apologies for my awkward English):


> The part played by lust in S&S is not obvious. It's difficult

> to imagine the husband , an old broken man (but is he really that

> old? he can't be more than 55 or 60) chasing girls or indulging in

> lustful fantasies.


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