NABOKV-L post 0022048, Thu, 29 Sep 2011 04:39:22 -0300

Re: FW: [NABOKV-L] Fw: [NABOKV-L] One of Tennyson's translations
and Pale Fire
FW: [NABOKV-L] Fw: [NABOKV-L] One of Tennyson's translations and Pale FireStan Kelly-Bootle:"I now see that you did recognize that 'slight' was a 'marvellous typo.' Do we both agree that it's really VN's deliberate PUN, rather than a typo that happens to work as a pun?"

JM: "Slight" was not Nabokov's typo nor pun. We find, in Brian Boyd's annotations to Ada, a reference to a different kind of wordplay: (18.01:[...]. "A pun, of course, on 'ha-ha' as laughter, stressing the absurdity of transferring Russia across the ocean. The "ha" lost in the transformation of "sleight of hand" into "sleight of land" has been doubly repaid.") **

The original sentence from which I extracted the typo came in a text written by Matthew Walker in "A Note on the Translation of Nabokov's 'Slava'." It is:: "an early 'I,' the author of his youth, chasing and missing a butterfly..., and a later 'I' who returns from a spatial and temporal exile to observe his previous self, incognito, by a linguistic slight-of-hand: a 'curve' of the word that seems to return the 'I' to its origin.*

* M.Walker comments on these lines by Nabokov (1942) "It is far to the meadows where I sobbed in my childhood/h aving missed an Apollo [... ]// But my word, curved to form an aerial viaduct,/spans the world, and across in a strobe-effect spin/of spokes I keep endlessly passing incognito/ into the flame-licked night of my native land." The author observes that "there are indications that the translator of 'Slava' is not quite the same person its author was. Late Nabokov leaves his traces." The Nabokovian, 2008, n.61.
** The sentence, in Ada, is: "Ved' ('it is, isn't it') sidesplitting to imagine that 'Russia,' instead of being a quaint synonym of Estoty, the American province extending from the Arctic no longer vicious Circle to the United States proper, was on Terra the name of a country, transferred as if by some sleight of land across the ha-ha of a doubled ocean to the opposite hemisphere where it sprawled over all of today's Tartary, from Kurland to the Kuriles! But (even more absurdly), if, in Terrestrial spatial terms, the Amerussia of Abraham Milton was split into its components, with tangible water and ice separating the political, rather than poetical, notions of 'America' and 'Russia,' a more complicated and even more preposterous discrepancy arose in regard to time..."

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