Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023721, Fri, 1 Mar 2013 12:00:23 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: Double Consciousness in Wordsworth & Shade

Matt Roth:
"...the fine American poet Corey Marks, in which he addresses what he terms the “descriptive-meditative structure” in Romanticism. Speaking of Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” he writes: 'But with ‘somewhat of a sad perplexity’ he [the poem’s speaker] registers a difference between the memory he has carried of the place and what he now sees. When he superimposes the picture held in memory over the actual scene, he finds they are mismatched...Imagine looking through a View-Master, that childhood toy that layers two images over each other..You expect to see a single sharply defined landscape but instead see two pictures..., their differences disconcertingly apparent.' This description reminded me of lines 41-48 from “Pale Fire,” where Shade wonders at the difference between his memory and his present observation[ ]"...Maybe some quirk in space/Has caused a fold or furrow to displace/The fragile vista...' Is it possible that this passage purposely reconstitutes Wordsworth’s notion? Is the idea of “two consciousnesses” at the root of this passage?"

Jansy Mello:
Once again Matt establishes a significant literary correlation between the lines of a poet (here, Wordsworth) and John Shade's "Pale Fire." However, Nabokov's world was rich with "superimposed pictures" and signs (polissemy in action through intertextuality) which, at one level, impede the reader to get "a single sharply defined landscape."

I happened to be browsing through past issues of "The Nabokovian" and Marina Grishakova's "On Some Allusions in V. Nabokov's Works" (TN, 43,1999) may provide us with an additional interpretation. Working over Pascal's "Pensées" and their influence over Nabokov (Bend Sinister, Speak, Memory, Ada. and the "two abysses or eternities"), she quotes from BS,147: "Certain mind pictures had become so adulterated by the concept of 'time' that we have come to believe in the actual existence of a permanently moving bright fissure (the point of perception) between our retrospective eternity which we cannot recall and the prospective one which we cannot know..." For MG "Nabokov resorts to the Pascalean metaphor again and again: 'infinity', 'dark eternity,' an 'abyss' or a 'pit' juxtaposed to human perceptual time." MG's perspective is unlike John Shade's and W.Wordsworth's in that the juxtaposed perceptual time, from her selection of quotes, relates to what John Shade poetically refers to as "A thousand years ago five minutes were/ Equal to forty ounces of fine sand./ Outstare the stars. Infinite foretime and/ Infinite aftertime: above your head/They close like giant wings, and you are dead." (lines 120-124), but I'm willing to take the risk that John Shade's "quirk in space" may also be applied to time and eternity, viewed from a different vertex, i.e,admitting the relation between time and space (although apparentlty Van Veen firmly denies it).

I'll copy her words about "two black beats" in Ada: "limitedness of perception prevents a man to catch pure Time imevitably assuming a form of extension, a gap between . Maybe the only thing that hints as a sense of Time is rythm..."(nb the importance of rythm in Shade's poetry).

Mind the gap!

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