Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023689, Wed, 20 Feb 2013 13:59:48 -0300

Sybil's syllables.versipel, amber
One curiosity related to Sybil:(944-56) and Gradus in their effect (at least, Sybil's) on Shade's inspiration, composition and his odd muse. Was Kinbote, himself, influenced by these lines when he related Gradus's progression to Shade's iambic motor? There's a definite (slightly paranoid) connection between Gradus, Sybil and a versipellous muse.

"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.

And all the time, and all the time, my love,
You too are there, beneath the word, above
The syllable, to underscore and stress
The vital rhythm. One heard a woman’s dress
Rustle in days of yore. I’ve often caught
The sound and sense of your approaching thought"
(by John Shade)

Gradus: "...through the entire length of the poem, following the road of its rhythm, riding past in a rhyme, skidding around the corner of a run-on, breathing with the caesura, swinging down to the foot of the page from line to line as from branch to branch, hiding between two words...reappearing on the horizon of a new canto, steadily marching nearer in iambic motion, crossing streets, moving up with his valise on the escalator of the pentameter, stepping off, boarding a new train of thought, entering the hall of a hotel, putting out the bedlight, while Shade blots out a word, and falling asleep as the poet lays down his pen for the night." ( by Charles Kinbote )

On the whole, we find an insinuation of progress, probably a cyclical one, related to the alphabet (from A to Z, from Z to A): "Mrs. Goldsworth’s boudoir, her intellectual interests were fully developed, going as they did from Amber to Zen." and "... way from distant dim Zembla to green Appalachia..."

The importance of amber (against prude "antiamberians") is stronger in ADA (in PF Kinbote embalms the ant in amber, although Shade describes it as being simply "gum-logged"): Cf. pg.25 and Darkbloom's entry: lammer: amber (Fr: l’ambre), allusion to electricity.

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