NABOKV-L post 0023393, Mon, 15 Oct 2012 10:45:37 -0400

Subject
THOUGHT: VN's aesthetic
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Date
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I agree rather strongly. If The Vane Sisters is a great short story
it must be mainly for its descriptiveness,
and not for its acrostic-ality. Nobody, I think,
ever solved, independently, this puzzle.
And without VN's revealing the answer,
no one ever would solve it.
Nobody ever experienced, or will, that Aha!-moment
that the piece was seemingly written to evoke.
It's just a kind of stunt played to show
how impossibly abstruse the game can get,
replete with extra-textual instructions, very much like Eliot!

On the other hand I think a central understanding of Shade
derives in large part from attempting to physically render Canto 4;
and realizing then that the sound, sense and feeling
of an interpretation based upon just the words themselves
are apt to be very different than one
based upon Kinbote's misinterpretation
as given in his commentary to the opening of Canto 4.

Lines 835-838: Now I shall spy, etc.

The canto, begun on July 19th, on card sixty-eight, opens with a typical Shadism: the cunning working-in of several inter-echoing phrases into a jumble of enjambments. Actually, the promise made in these four lines will not be really kept except for the repetition of their incantatory rhythm in lines 915 and 923-924 (leading to the savage attack in 925-930). The poet like a fiery rooster seems to flap his wings in a preparatory burst of would-be inspiration, but the sun does not rise. Instead of the wild poetry promised here, we get a jest or two, a bit of satire, and at the end of the canto, a wonderful radiance of tenderness and repose.

In fact the sun does rise, quite fiercely even,
but only when one pushes aside Kinbote's silly misreadings.
VN believed strongly in deception as an essential part of story telling;
Kinbote is mainly a bumbling diversion-ist, especially in things poetic.
Nabokov's puzzles sometimes require a kind of reading
that most readers are not likely to undertake.
In the case of The Vane Sisters, no one could
possibly read it on their own in the requisite way.
In the case of Pale Fire, Canto 4 however,
a performer responding to the potentiality of the words alone,
might ignore Kinbote's misdirections and discover
a wonderfully vibrant wildness & subsequent repose.

Tangentially yours,
~/gsl.

On Oct 11, 2012, at 3:46 PM, Anthony Stadlen wrote:

> I don't quite know how to put this with due respect to VN, but am I alone in finding this business of committees of ghosts attending to the destinies of the quick so idiosyncratic and trivial as to be a real turn-off? I enjoyed the bit about Tolstoy and the acrostic in The Vane Sisters, but if it becomes the underlying metaphysics of his oeuvre, so to speak, it just seems silly. Of course, each man is entitled to his religion, but as Bertrand Russell said in response to D. H. Lawrence's "Look, we have come through!", they may have come through but why should we look?
>
>
> Anthony Stadlen
> "Oakleigh"
> 2A Alexandra Avenue
> GB - London N22 7XE
> Tel.: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857
> For Existential Psychotherapy and Inner Circle Seminars see:
> http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com
>
>
> In a message dated 11/10/2012 15:31:20 GMT Daylight Time, nabokv-l@HOLYCROSS.EDU writes:
> It could be that the answer to many ghost-related riddles in Nabokov
> (including PF) is in "Pnin":
> "He did not believe in an autocratic God. He did believe, dimly, in a democracy of ghosts.
> The souls of the dead, perhaps, formed committees, and these, in
> continuous session, attended to the destinies of the quick."
>
> It is the interaction and struggle between ghosts, each
> protecting his or her own "quick", much like Greek gods, that can
> explain the incosistencies.
> As for the tradition of ghosts in the Russian literature, it's
> huge but it seems that Nabokov's treatment of the theme was
> influenced more by spiritualistic and theosophical
> teachings immensely popular in Russia at the time of Nabokov's youth.
>
> Tatiana Ponomareva
>
> --
> Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
> Co„Editor, NABOKV„L
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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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