Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020876, Thu, 14 Oct 2010 14:02:48 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] Sylvia O'Donnel, Haan, Boyd and being far,far away....
Dave Haan sent me (off-list) a few comments on Litt/Lit and Sylvia O' Donnel. He agreed that I share it with you all.
He wrote:
"...your Lit vs Litt observation: Everyman faithfully reproduces what's in the First Impression (Lit in the poem, Litt in the commentary), but Kinbote's not consistent, as he uses the former form in the preface, referring to "Lit. 202".
On your other query, I'd raised the question in the NYTimes' discussion of Boyd's book, which he quotes in his follow-up "Azure Afterimages" in Nab Studies #6: "[Sylvia O'Donnell]'s the only character who bridges Zembla and New Wye (at least in Kinbote's mind) and seems well-connected: mother of Odon (1st marriage), wife of Gusev, Duke of Rahl (who's Oleg's father), in process of divorcing Lionel Lavender (cousin to Joseph, who's nephew is Gordon)." I missed Nodo, index listing as "son of Leopold O'Donnell and of a Zemblan boy impersonator". So there's no blood relation between any of them, excepting the mirror-imaged half-brothers."
He added: "Boyd's article posits Sylvia O'Donnell as Kinbote's "wish-fulfillment antithesis" of Sybil Irondell Shade, and counterpoint to the "woman spurned" theme. The index ref to Nodo, "boy impersonator", echoes C275: "He [Charles] saw nineteen-year-old Disa for the first time on the festive night of July the 5th, 1947, at a masked ball in her uncle's palace. She had come in male dress, as a Tirolese boy, a little knock-kneed but brave and lovely..." Curiously this reference is omitted in the index entry for Disa. C433, which is referenced, compares Disa to Sybil Shade: "Now the curious thing about it is that Disa at thirty, when last seen in September 1958, bore a singular resemblance not, of course, to Mrs. Shade as she was when I met her, but to the idealized and stylized picture painted by the poet in those lines [261-267] of Pale Fire."
An innocuous phrase embedded therein, "when last seen", repeated in concluding Sylvia O'Donnell's index entry, "when last seen in this Index".(Howzat for going full circle?). Good luck unravelling the familial relations (and the names), but I think the weave much tighter."

JM: Exceptionally good reporting, Dave. Fortunately I have the #6 Nabokov Studies, with Boyd's original article (2000/2001).I landed on those "familial relations" by sheer accident, as it's wont to happen with me.
Would anyone believe it if I confessed that this unfolding story began last week, when I set myself the task to investigate the word "Onhava"?
In one of his elocubrations Kinbote appended to the words "far,far away..." what could only mean their translation in Zemblan, should it made any sense gramatically speaking, ie, he added, in parenthesis: "Onhava,onhava."*
Besides the actual use of "far,far away" by the creators of "Shrek," with pomp and circumstance, I noticed that its first movie appearance took place a long time ago. Just before Judy Garland bursts into singing "Over the Rainbow," we learn that the land of which she'd heard in a lullaby is "far, far away..." (grandkids help me to investigate Nabokov! ).
Unfortunately I'm unable to follow Boyd's fantastic common-sense logic here, when he presents us to Hazel's ghost or her lovely transformation in the hereafter, nor his ideas about "women spurned" (with their proverbial wrath?). The hypothesis that Sylvia could be Kinbote's "wish-fulfillment anti-thesis" of Sybil Shade makes no sense at all if we consider Kinbote's homosexual constitution, misoginy and fantasy-life.

Marvellous indication, Dave, related to the two sentences that pair Disa and Sylvia ("when last seen"). If we understand these to link both ladies, how are we to understand the propositions: "Disa=Sybil"; "Disa=Sylvia" when we keep in mund that only Disa, of all three, has been sexually spurned and that Sylvia is seen as "the antithesis of Sybil"?

* PF(CK): "Gradus admitted an unexpected visitor - one of the greater Shadows, whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in wild, misty, almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks our magical mechanical age plays ..."

**- Aunt Em: Now, you just help us out today and find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble.
Dorothy: Some place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?
There must be. Not a place you can get to by a boat or a train.It's far, far away - behind the moon - beyond the rain -
(Over The Rainbow)
Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high. There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to
Really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, Away above the chimney tops.
That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then - oh, why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh, why can't I?


The surprise also derives from another message by Dave Haan: " Funny thing about the Oz connection, and "far, far away, behind the moon": The Pink Floyd album "Dark Side of the Moon" synchronizes with the movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Side_of_the_Rainbow."

We must remember that, in his poem Shade writes about Hazel and her fate in connection to "Time" using traditional images.

1. In the school pantomime:

My gentle girl appeared as Mother Time,
A bent charwoman with a slop pail and broom...

2. At the time of her death:

Out of his lakeside shack
A watchman, Father Time, all gray and bent,
Emerged with his uneasy dog and went
Along the reedy bank. He came too late.

Charles Kinbote presents a different image, when he describes an unexpected visitor that appears to Gradus as "one of the greater Shadows, whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in wild, misty, almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks our magical mechanical age plays with old mother space and old father time!."

John Shade presents an incongruent pair, one which is exclusively linked to "time". ("Kronos")
Kinbote's couple offers space as "feminine" and allows "her" to be einsteinlianly married to time (is there a special twist in that?).
We shall later find more comments about time and space, through unreliable Van in "Ada," and various observations by Nabokov himself, about his idea of "time and space," and "time forks," but what interests me now, mostly, is the "bent" as it's found in "time's bend backs" and as it has been applied to space by Shade ( also space is bent or folded and plied )
... Maybe some quirk in space

Has caused a fold or furrow to displace

The fragile vista, the frame house between

Goldsworth and Wordsmith on its square of green.

Are Shade's lines prophetic of his imminent disappearance in time and space, or is this kind of comparison pointless (besides, "even Homais nods"?) Will the mythological reference to Uranus, Chronus, Phanes, Chaos be in anyway helpful here? Any ideas? What about the quirky synchronicity related to Oz wizardry?

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