Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023710, Wed, 27 Feb 2013 13:07:29 -0800

Re: fulmerlog:VN Sighting: Michael Chabon on Wes Anderson's
Nabokovian Worlds
Dear Jerry Friedman,

I've always thought that Zembla is part Sweden (there are some mountains in PF
that certainly exist in reality in Scandanavia - I believe Dmitri wrote us that
he had climbed one or both of them*), part Arctic circle (hyperborean can't
recall that word meaning north of Gt Britain - the Nazis took it as a moral and
occult emblem of their movement) and much much more - Russia especially post
Mongolian invasion. Of course pre-Christian Rus' was Verangian (Scandanavia) at
one time. Poland at one time. Ukraine at one time.

The eastern themes (that patifolia for example), divans, mirrors and chevals are
redolent of many places, many things. Of course the history or Zembla and its
monarchs is fabulous.

The reference to 'sexually left-handed' reminds me of a minor adventure I had
when living in Venice during the seventies. A restaurant opened up with the name
Bar Sinister and Goulash. The combination of one of my favorite dishes and the
Nabokovian sounding 'bar sinister' were irresistible. Alas, it turned out to be
a gay bar - and no goulash. The bathrooms were marked Roses and Thorns.


*Thule - I had to google it.

From: Jerry Friedman <jerryfriedman1@GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Sat, February 16, 2013 1:14:50 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] fulmerlog:VN Sighting: Michael Chabon on Wes Anderson's
Nabokovian Worlds

Ron Rosenbaum is quite right to point out that I responded to misreadings of
Chabon's comment with my own. Of course Chabon said that Nabokov, not Kinbote,
tucked Zembla into the housing of Shade's epic.

I cannot agree, though, that Zembla is not "miniature" or "tucked" in.
Certainly it's florid and blatantly mad, but if we see it a version of Russia,
it's certainly a miniature version--much smaller in land and population, and we
see almost none of its literature, no admirable people except maybe Oswin
Bretwit, and none of its history except for monarchs, none of whom are "great".
(Likewise if we see Shade's poem as an epic, it's certainly a miniature epic.)
As for "tucked", if we were reading a real poem and commentary, the Zembla
material would be ridiculously overgrown, but as we're reading a strange novel,
then the author has found a way to put his distant northern land into it as a
strange but vital part.

I must agree with Jansy Mello that "sexually left-handed", a term that Alexey
Sklyarenko found in The Eye, is homophobic as well as part of the mirror fun in
Pale Fire.

Jerry Friedman

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