After the publication of the "Original of Laura," the rights to publish Nabokov's novels and stories were acquired by a new publishing house with new translations and a regular output. This has brought Vladimir Nabokov to the attention of the Brazilian general readers, also because of the reviews and, in July, by the participation of Lila Zanganeh at the Paraty literary encounter (FLIP 2013). From a newspaper article, reprinted in his blog, critic Ivo Barroso writes about the new translation of Nabokov's short-stories, with praise for J.R.Siqueira's result, furnishing an example of how the acrostic at the end of "The Vane Sisters" was rendered.*
"Icicles by Cynthia Meter from me Sybil" became "Estalactites de minha irmã Parquímetro meu Sybil."
I was curious, as usual, about other translations. Jorio Dauster's ( "Perfeição e Outros Contos: As Irmãs Vane" chose:: "Sincelo da Cintia Parquimetro meu Sibila" -
Meter became "parqúimetro" in the two translations. The rare use of "y" in Portuguese (used by JR Siqueira to maintain Sybil's name in the original ) relies on an extraneous reference to a 'yankee spinster." added to the last paragraph  The wonderful word "sincelo" chosen by Dauster serves to indicate the precious "frozen stillicide" in "Pale Fire," instead of the more usual "stalactites."
After puzzling over Cynthia's spirit's moving fingers in "icicles," in the final acrostic, I returned to the second paragraph from "The Vane Sisters"
"In the midst of my usual afternoon stroll...I had stopped to watch a family of brilliant icicles drip-dripping from the eaves of a frame house. So clear-cut were their pointed shadows on the white boards behind them that I was sure the shadows of the falling drops should be visible too. But they were not. The roof jutted too far out, perhaps, or the angle of vision was faulty, or, again, I did not chance to be watching the right icicle when the right drop fell. There was a rhythm, an alternation in the dripping that I found as teasing as a coin trick. It led me...right to the house where D. used to live ...And as I looked up at the eaves of the adjacent garage with its full display of transparent stalactites backed by their blue silhouettes, I was rewarded at last, upon choosing one, by the sight of what might be described as the dot of an exclamation mark leaving its ordinary position to glide down very fast—a jot faster than the thaw-drop it raced. This twinned twinkle was delightful but not completely satisfying; or rather it only sharpened my appetite for other tidbits of light and shade, and I walked on in a state of raw awareness that seemed to transform the whole of my being into one big eyeball rolling in the world's socket."
Cynthia's shadowy reference to icicles seems important in retrospect. If, at first, they seems to be trivial indicators of a path leading to D's house - and to the information about Cynthia's death, when we discover them as otherwordly signs, this initial reference to unseen shadows may have an additional meaning. These very real dark effects had been invisible because they lacked a proper background, the right drop wasn't spotted .or "the angle of vision was faulty."
I wonder if the readers are thereby invited to look for such a background or proper angle, but then...what for? Their function (to lead towards D's house) has been accomplished (unless the innocent reference to unseen shadows serves an indirect warning about the acrostic). 


* (:"I could isolate, consciously, little. Everything seemed blurred, yellow-clouded, yielding nothing tangible. Her inept acrostics, maudlin evasions, theopathies—every recollection formed ripples of mysterious meaning. Everything seemed yellowly blurred, illusive, lost.")

Gaveta do Ivo

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