NABOKV-L post 0022762, Sat, 28 Apr 2012 10:31:13 -0400

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Re: VN's poetic genius and PF poem
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On Apr 24, 2012, at 11:06 AM, Jansy wrote:

> 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?


On Apr 27, 2012, at 7:32 AM, Vladimir Mylnikov wrote:

> the fun part of the book is that the poem, the commentary, and the index are inseparable


Both Vera & Dimitri, I believe, felt that VN's poetic output was under-appreciated.
(I have Nikki Smith's "...his mother mourned the inattention given Nabokov the poet" from her tribute to Dimitri. but would appreciate any other citations as regards Vera & Dimitri on this.)

I wonder what other list-members might find to be VN's best poems, besides Pale Fire.

My opinion is that Pale Fire is an extraordinary work and VN's reputation as poet derives mainly from it.
In other words, the other poems, mostly only briefly read by me, do not impress nearly as much.

My belief is that VN wanted to continue the poetic narrative tradition established by his beloved Eugene Onegin and that this was the principle motive for the composition of Pale Fire. I believe VN saw, correctly, the limited market for a long, or longish, traditional narrative poem. Moreover I believe VN was under contract to produce novels at that time. Assuming this, one readily conjectures that the combination poem-and-novel was a clever solution to this conflict of purposes. Thus Pale Fire, the poem is to be read as the better half of the duplex, although the apples-&-oranges argument obviously applies. Anthony Burgess notes that most people go back to reading the poem, not what surrounds the poem. ( The Paris Review, Spring 1973 No. 56.)

The ongoing, underlying, joke of the book has often been noted: that Kinbote's commentary connects only occasionally to the poem.
Matt Roth has demonstrated a number of interesting connections between the two, on the versipel theme; unfortunately I don't think his findings impact the meaning & value of the poem all that much. Kinbote mainly uses Shade's poem, freely, as a jumping off point for his own series of humorous vignettes. VN does though use Kinbote to explicate some issues in the poem, the empty emerald case for instance, and to misdirect the reader about others, like what the English Linguist actually said and what it means.

My personal opinions aside, I would very much appreciate reading other opinions on VN's other best poems and why they are individually valued.

Thanks in advance for any responses. They hopefully will guide my thoughts & study on this issue.

Respectfully yours,
/~gsl.


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