Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027042, Mon, 6 Jun 2016 19:02:45 -0300

A casual mosaic inspired by electricity and Tamerlane
The dead, the gentle dead - who knows? -
In tungsten filaments abide, [ ]


And when above the livid plain
Forked lightning plays, therein may dwell
The torments of a Tamerlane,
The roar of tyrants torn in hell.

( Cf. Pale Fire: CK's annotations to line 347 brings up the posthumously
published "The Nature of Electricity" by John Shade.)
Here are a few interesting associations garnered at the wikipedia site,
related to Ada Lovelace, Byron's work Don Juan and Manfred, Poe's sometime
pseudonym and his use of endnotes:
"Tamerlane ignores the young love he has for a peasant in order to achieve
power. On his deathbed, he regrets this decision to create "a kingdom [in
exchange] for a broken heart". The peasant is named Ada in most of Poe's
original version of the poem, though it is removed and re-added throughout
its many revised versions. The name "Ada" is likely a reference to Ada
Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, a renowned poet whom Poe admired. In
fact, the line "I reach'd my home - my home no more" echoes a line in
Byron's work Don Juan. [ ] Only 17 when he wrote the poem, Poe's own sense
of loss came from the waning possibility of inheritance and a college.
Distinctly a poem of youth, the poem also discusses themes Poe will use
throughout his life, including his tendency toward self-criticism and his
ongoing strivings towards perfection. The poem was influenced by Lord
Byron's drama Manfred and his poem "The Giaour" in both manner and style.[
]Poe may have identified with the title character. He used "TAMERLANE" as a
pseudonym attached to two of his poems on their first publication, "Fanny
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poems_by_Edgar_Allan_Poe> " and "To --
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poems_by_Edgar_Allan_Poe> ," both published
in 1833.[ ] Tamerlane and Other Poems, which appeared in June 1827, was
forty pages long and credited only by "a Bostonian". In its initial
publication in the collection Tamerlane and Other Poems, Poe included
endnotes explaining some of his allusions from "Tamerlane." He also
confesses early on that he knows little about the historical Tamerlane, "and
with that little, I have taken the full liberty of a poet." These endnotes
do not appear in any other collection that includes "Tamerlane."
and a curious link between Thomas Brown, Poe and Kinbote's ancestors:*
" In the following year an anonymous contributor to the Philadelphia
Saturday Evening Post disclosed the fact that Poe had drawn freely on
Captain Thomas Brown's Textbook of Conchology (1833) for his Conchologist's
First Book (1839), a compilation to which in an evil hour he had attached
his name." http://www.eapoe.org/PAPERS/misc1921/kcm33c06.htm or to Shade's
"gentle dead": "But even more obvious than the debt to Manfred and "The
Giaour' that appears in "Tamerlane" is the borrowing from Byron seen in his
early lyric "Spirits of the Dead," which is, much of the way, a mosaic of
materials drawn from the incantation at the end of the first scene of
Manfred." (idem)
Jansy Mello
*CK's Note to line 12: "To return to the King: take for instance the
question of personal culture. How often is it that kings engage in some
special research? Conchologists among them can be counted on the fingers of
one maimed hand."

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