Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021844, Sat, 23 Jul 2011 02:59:18 +0100

Re: SKB on 'mesiats' & intelligent & EDNote

On 21/07/2011 16:45, "Nabokv-L" <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU> wrote:
> EdNote--Without double-checking things, I'd bet that this "intelligent" should
> have been printed "intelligent", as in Russian интеллигент--a member of the
> Russian intelligentsia--a complex concept that refers much more to progressive
> politics than to "intelligence" in the Anglo-American sense. I'm pretty sure
> that elsewhere he discusses the Russian intelligent in detail. ~SB
> Ah, Stephen HERO! The memory jolt I needed.
> Seeing the noun ‘интеллигент’ in Cyrillic, I recall the obvious false-friend
> (adj. intelligent!) and read it as ‘intellectual, or member of the
> intelligentsia.’ Similarly, ‘intelligentny’ = ‘intellectual,’ the masc.
> adjective.
> Where does this leave us when reading VN’s apparently-English text:
> “These two men* are experimenters in form, sometimes difficult to understand
> even for a Russian intelligent reader, and hopelessly mutilated in English
> versions. In other words, it would be prodigiously difficult for you to tackle
> these two without knowing the language.”
> * Alexandr Blok and Andrey Bely, picked out to represent the “flourishing”
> years 1900-17 (in contrast to the barren 1920-57).
> Semantically, the English adjectives ‘intelligent’ and ‘intellectual’ would
> both convey VN’s obvious sense. SB’s suggestion is that VN wanted to convey
> something stronger: интеллигент, as ‘member-of-the-intelligentsia,’ but here
> using the noun adjectively (which works in English but not in Russian!) As you
> know, Cyrillics are not used in his Lectures on Russian Literature, much to my
> personal chagrin. So, we must endure unreadable italicized transliterations as
> in
> Yah pom-new chewed-no-ay mg-no-vain-yay (p. 320)
> (VN apologizes for uglifying one of Pushkin’s greatest line!)
> Whether using italics, as in “... even for a Russian intelligent reader” would
> be understood as интеллигент is a moot point to which we may never know the
> answer. At this point, VN is addressing and commiserating with Anglophones.
> But I accept SB’s suggestion as highly plausible ... In which case, VN passes
> the Paikeday test as a Native Speaker of English!
> BTW: I did catch Paikeday writing of a “Finnish young girl ...” where the
> Native instinct prefers “young Finnish girl ...”
> The mystery remains: is there an apodictic ordering of English adjectives? Or
> do we take votes among soi-disant Native Speakers? The following sound right
> to me:
> “Intelligent Russian readers.” “Intellectual Russian readers.” “Readers of the
> Russian intelligentsia.”
> Finally, I am very much aware of Fredson Bowers’s Editorial Notes, esp. p.
> xii. The essays have been nursed together from handwritten (sometimes
> incomplete) lecture notes and “they cannot be regarded as a finished literary
> product ...”
> We are forever grateful that so much has been lovingly restored and preserved
> for us.
> Stan Kelly-Bootle
> Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] k chertyam sobach'im
> From: Stan Kelly-Bootle <stan@bootle.biz> <mailto:stan@bootle.biz>
> Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 01:37:33 +0100
> To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@listserv.ucsb.edu>
> <mailto:NABOKV-L@listserv.ucsb.edu>
> //snip
> PS: “ ... even for a Russian intelligent reader.” (p 324, L’Envoi, Lectures on
> Russian Literature, Harvest/Harcourt, 1981)
> Have others noticed a rather arcane aspect of English grammar here? Without
> knowing why, most native Anglophobes sense an incorrect adjectival inversion,
> preferring “an intelligent Russian reader.” In his “The Native Speaker Dead,”
> Tom Paikeday argues that there’s no satisfactory definition of Native Speaker,
> although the concept plays a key role in Chomsky’s theories. Tom objected to
> adverts for teachers that demanded Native Speakers in a specified language.
> How does this requirement compare with highly-fluent competence? Are there
> oral/written tests to distinguish Native Speakers from highly-fluent ones.
> Both classes are likely to make mistakes in tests, yet competent languages
> users were being turned for not having the right parents. Whence the interest
> in obscure grammatical rules, possibly nowhere documented, and known only to
> Native Speakers via some innate and unique capacity. Here we might be catching
> Nabokov making a rare non-Native slip?
> http://www.paikeday.net/speaker.pdf
> Stan Kelly-Bootle

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