NABOKV-L post 0022757, Fri, 27 Apr 2012 04:32:34 -0700

Re: VN's poetic genius and PF poem

Do you think that all the fuss around John Shade's poem "Pale Fire" did
Nabokov a disservice in connection to VN's poetic genius?


think 'the fuss' mainly deals with the reader's approach to the book
and its quite logical vivisection - separate prose and verse (including
their functions) - but the fun part of the book is that the poem, the
commentary, and the index are inseparable - it is a linguistic salad and
one ingredient pulled out doesn't taste as good as when it stays in the

poems and problems, for instance, is much 'solid' book to
make some judgments regarding nabokov's poetic skills, i believe, but
strangely  enough the book is not much discussed upon the matter.

vladimir m.

From: Carolyn Kunin <chaiselongue@ATT.NET>
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:19 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] VN's poetic genius and PF poem

JM: How nice to see you back to your old form ranging from the pianíssimo to the forte...
In your opinion VN was a superb poet who "has yet to be properly recognized as such." The article Brian Piano Forte quoted [Vladimir Nabokov and William Shakespeare by Philip F Howerton, Jr.] apparently confirms your opinion

Do you think that all the fuss around John Shade's poem "Pale Fire" did Nabokov a disservice in connection to VN's poetic genius? 
Hello Jansy,

It's nice to be back. I have not read the Howerton article, but your quote refers to poems written in Russian presumably, none of which I have read. 

As for the controversy over the PF poem, I did overhear (pianissimo as you say) the discussions from afar, but did not join in because my opinion depends to so great an extent on my interpretation of the novel, that it would only mean fighting those old wars again - no point to that. 

But since you ask, I felt the controversy was the result of mis-reading the novel. Personally? I adored the Shade poem, therefore I adored Shade. But when I came to suspect Shade of deception, my understanding of the poem had to expand to include all the truths about himself that I felt Shade was hiding in it - from himself as well as from his virtual reader. I also feel that at the point that Shade suffers a cerebral stroke/psychotic break, that the poem breaks down as well and ceases at that point to be even a fictional work of art. 

The way I see it, the poem's integrity depends on its function within the novel. I continue to feel that Pale Fire is an unsurpassed and probably unsurpassable work of art and that in conceiving of it and realizing his conception in poetry and prose, VN proved himself capable of near supernatural achievement. 

Forte-pianistically yours,

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