NABOKV-L post 0022728, Sat, 21 Apr 2012 14:37:26 -0700

Re: [Amends] A Flemish master and more...
i think nabokov has never been to oxford

From: Mary H. Efremov <mbutterfly549@AOL.COM>
Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] [Amends] A Flemish master and more...

could not have Nabokov seen the painting at Oxford?  

-----Original Message-----
From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Sat, Apr 21, 2012 10:01 am
Subject: [NABOKV-L] [Amends] A Flemish master and more...

A pretext is necessary to return to the List and add more alterations
to my former postings. After all, not even Chaos Theory can correct a
senseless verbal image such as "shaping a peasant's boast into a boundless
ambition" by giving shape to a boundless urge.* Fortunately, I can offer you a
rather old disproportionatelly colorful  "pretext," related to
Flemish masters. Namely Philologica 6 (1999/2000)  with Jan ZIELINSKI's
(Summary) In the second chapter of The
Gift (1937-1938), Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev  (Fedor Konstantinovich
Godunov-Cherdyncev) recalls his father's study, where "among the old, tranquil,
velvet-framed family photographs <...> there hung  a copy of the
picture: Marco Polo leaving Venice. She was rosy, this Venice, and the water of
her lagoon was azure, with swans twice the size of the boats, into one of which
tiny violet men were descending by way of a plank, in order to board a ship
which was waiting a little way off with sails furled - and I cannot tear myself
away from this mysterious beauty, these ancient colours which swim before the
eyes as if seeking new shapes, when I now imagine the outfitting of my father's
caravan in Przhevalsk".
A few pages
later the motif of Marco Polo's journey re-occurs: "In this desert are preserved
traces of an ancient road along which Marco Polo passed six centuries before I
did: its markers are piles of stones <...> during the sandstorms I also
saw and heard the same as Marco Polo: 'the whisper of spirits calling you
aside'" (trans. by M. Scammel and V. Nabokov, 1963).
commentator in the most recent edition of The Gift (1998) has
established that the words about "the whisper of spirits" are inspired by a
description of Marco Polo's voyage published in St. Petersburg in 1902. However,
nowhere is there any information about the picture from Godunov-Cherdyntsev
Senior's library.The first volume of a History of Venetian Culture contains a
colour illustration which fully corresponds to Nabokov's description. The swans
swimming on the azure waters of Venice, are disproportionally large in
comparison with the boats. On the right, a "winged" figure is descending to a
boat, and behind it, other figures wait their turn. In the middle, awaits a
ship, facing eastwards, its sails furled. The colours coincide exactly with
Nabokov's description, from which one might assume that, even if the
had not seen the original, then he had seen a colour reproduction of the
picture.No later than 1466 this work was located in England, and since 1605, at
very latest, it has been in Bodleian Library in Oxford (MS Bodley 264).
This is one of the most remarkable miniatures of a fourteenth-century codex
includes a manuscript of Li romans di boin roi Alixandre (in the
Picardian dialect), its summary in English, as well as Marco Polo's work Li
liures du graunt Caam. The illustrations in this manuscript book are not
anonymous: two leaves bear a signature, iohannes me fecit, which is
traditionally attributed to the Flemish painter, Jehann de Grise of Bruges. Some scholars do
not regard all the miniatures as belonging to him; it is most likely that a
group of miniaturists worked under his direction. The manuscript is dated 1344.
Before 1937 the miniature was reproduced in colour several times, and any of
these editions could have become a source. Nabokov's high fidelity of colour
rendition and details make one think that he either based his description on
childhood impressions which were deeply embedded in his memory, or had a
reproduction in front of him when working on the second chapter of The
Gift.In any event, the fate of the medieval miniature is remarkable: a
picture with a Venetian subject, preserved in an English library,
was highly appraised in a novel by a Russian (and later American) writer which
was composed in Berlin and published in Paris.
There are many more Nabokov apparitions to be
found at that site (available in Russian and in English). I hope these can count
as some sort of amend?
1996   Volume 3   No. 5/7
 V. Nabokov, Lekcii po russkoj literature: Chexov, Dostoevskij, Gogol, Gorkij, Tolstoj,
Turgenev (A. A. Iliushin)
1998   Volume 5   No. 11/13
 V. Nabokov, Kommentarij k romanu A. S. Pushkina Evgenij Onegin;
V. Nabokov, Kommentarii k Evgeniiu Oneginu Aleksandra Pushkina (I. G. Dobrodomov, I. A. Pilshchikov)
 D. Zubarev
8 × 8, or
Chernyshevskij and Chess (Some Comments on Nabokovs The Gift.
1999/2000 Philologica 6
 J. Zieliński
The Swans Are
Twice the Size of the Boats (Nabokov and Marco Polo)
2001/2002   Volume 7   No. 17/18
 O. Ronen
Historical Modernism,
Artistic Innovation and Myth-Making in Vladimir Nabokovs System of Value
2003/2005   Volume 8   No. 19/20
 O. Ronen
Prousts Way in
Nabokovs Descriptive Art
* Frau Monde's records of time are
unlike last century's peasant's, at least in her present satanic incarnation.
Now the intervals are measured by clocks and watches, from Midday to
Spelling mishaps, added to typos and
incorrect prepositions are too many to acknowledge without turning into a total
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Google Search the archive Contact the Editors Visit "Nabokov Online Journal" Visit Zembla View Nabokv-L Policies Manage subscription options Visit AdaOnline View NSJ Ada Annotations Temporary L-Soft Search the archive
All private editorial communications are
read by both co-editors.

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Contact the Editors:,
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Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

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