Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023698, Sat, 23 Feb 2013 19:08:34 -0300

Re: Epigraphies and versipel
... "Versipel" could be the verbal image that renders VN's qualms towards his partially abandoned mother-tongue, then disguised into a parody of a country that lies far, far away. (JM)

Jansy Mello: In his commentaries about Brian Boyd's "Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years," Michael Wood indirectly answers part of my interrogations concerning Nabokov's experience of loss and his qualms in relation to the Russian language (but he opened many others concerning the role a writer's style could play to veil his losses) :

"Nabokov had moved from a precarious post teaching Russian at Wellesley to an established job teaching Russian and European literature at Cornell[ ] But there was a huge event in Nabokov's apparently quiet later life. He changed his language[ ] But that wasn't the completed event.[ ] The completed event was the decision, taken soon after his arrival in America, to abandon Russian as an instrument of prose fiction [ ] He "had to" give up Russian, it seems, not in order to sell books in English, but in order to write the English he wanted to write — to shake the shadow of his Russian. He made a sort of vow to himself. He says in a letter to his wife, rather oddly, that 'I myself don't fully register all the grief and bitterness of my situation." "I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced these feelings can properly appreciate them, the torment, the tragedy." The implication, clearly, is that a writer cannot have two languages, a view that makes Nabokov quite different, say. from Beckett, and perhaps from most bilingual writers.[ ] ...there is a passage in Speak, Memory, quoted by Boyd, that constructs memory and understanding as a function of loss rather than a redemption of it. Nabokov wonders whether he had missed something in his French governess, 'something … that I could appreciate only after the things and beings that I had most loved in the security of my childhood had been turned to ashes or shot through the heart." Thus it may have been also that Nabokov could appreciate language itself, appreciate it incomparably as he did, only after he had lost a language, or made himself lose it, and had found another in the ashes of his loss.[ ] In fact, we don't learn a whole lot about Nabokov himself in this book, if we think of "Nabokov" as a psychological entity rather than as a public face or a series of performances. This is not a failure on Boyd's part, it is an aspect of his triumph. For surely any psychology that we could invent for Nabokov would end up suspended in midair, stranded for lack of evidence. It's not that Nabokov didn't have a psychology, it's that he seems to have made it disappear into style, even in hi: private life." (for a full fair reading go to Elusive Butterfly | New Republic )
www.newrepublic.com/article/.../elusive-butterfl... -

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