F: [NABOKV-L] Sacher-Masoch
Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello <>
Thu, 16 Sep 2010 22:42:26 -0300

JM: After seeing an illustration by Maruo, about two girls riding on a snake, I realized that the victimized one was dressed following the "Lolita" stereotype ...Maruo is described as having established, through his drawings, a connection between Japan and the Occident by referring his art to Balthus and  Nabokov, whom he explicitly quotes... 
Alexey Sklyarenko1: Forgot to mention that Sacher-Masoch's best-known novel was Venus in Furs (1870). Cf. "Both young ladies wore the very short and open evening gowns that Vass 'miraged' that season - in the phrase of that season: Ada, a gauzy black, Lucette, a lustrous cantharid green... Mixed metaphors and and double-talk became all three Veens, the children of Venus." While Ada and Lucette, two daughters of Venus, revel with Van in Ursus, their furs are "locked up in the vault or somewhere." (3.8)
JM: Except for a few drawings, there's not much I know about the Japanese Maruo. The way he represented a Lolita-like school-girl, though, struck me beyond words. If, among philosophers, scholars and literateurs Nabokov's humanistic preoccupation is emphasized, in contrast to his character's cruelty and perversion (Cf.Rorty, Quennell...), Nabokov's novels seems to affect lay-readers differently. I was appalled to witness again how his work may be interpreted by those intent on exploring its sado-masochistic dimension ( there are, of course, no academic pincers nor authorial yawns!) While considering "Evil" in Art, a friend sent me a few lines:
Marcos Florião: 'Every good author, when he exposes himself - and Art demands exposure- has to choose the size of "the Beast" he'll let come through in his oeuvre, that is, how, when and where "it" will make its appearance. To loose one's footing is not uncommon even among the most distinguished authors and then the Beast takes the reins in its hands to control the author. Irony and cynicism are the best ingredients to sustain an author in his dealings with the forces of evil. Nabokov lets them in by discreet insinuations, they are infiltrated "au naturel," in an apparently placid everyday depiction of life. Jerzy Kosinski sometimes lost his hand, as did Piers Paul Read in his excellent "A married man" and "The upstart.", as also Ian McEwan when he wrote "The Comfort of Strangers" : he redeemed himself later, somehow, when he wrote "Atonement." '
AS2:When brought to a mad house (or, as he believes, to Madrid), Poprishchin, the hero of Gogol's Madman's Notes who imagines himself to be the Spanish King Ferdinand VIII, discovers that China and Spain are one and the same land.I'm not sure if there is a connection to Botkin's madness in Pale Fire. If there is a connection, does it suggest that Zembla = Appalachia? Zembla = Russia? Zembla = Sweden? America = Russia?
JM: Hearing the name "madrid" set close to "mad house" it was unavoidable that I'd equally split the sounds of "mad-rid." However, I doubt it that this "mad" would have been at all present in Gogol's mind, nor the link between "king" and the quandaries of a kingly chess-piece put in check (as in Kinbote's "solus rex"). Your question pulled me in another direction: why was Botkin needed in "Pale Fire", what's his function in the plot?
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