NABOKV-L post 0019865, Wed, 21 Apr 2010 23:13:12 -0600

Re: LINKS: Two Early PF Newspaper Items
On Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 7:32 AM, Matthew Roth <> wrote:

> ...

> I find it comforting that someone else saw this possible reading so soon
> after publication.
> I know the feeling. Great find!

The second article sheds light on a couple of minor controversies that have
> come up recently on the listserv. These concern whether or not VN saw "PF"
> as a good poem, and whether or not John Shade should be seen as a poet in
> the tradition of Robert Frost. The article, which appeared in the St.
> Petersburg (FL) Times on June 24, 1962, quotes VN as follows:
> "The structure of the book was something new. First, I had to create a New
> England poet who was a follower of Robert Frost. Then I had to evolve some
> kind of inspiration to produce a good poem, and I hope I did." These
> sentences affirm both Shade's Frostiness and VN's "good" intentions
> regarding the poem. See here:
> nabokov&pg=5981,2022380<,2022380>

I like that one even better, and a very interesting interview.

> A cautionary note: VN also says Shade is a New England poet, when it seems
> clear from most of the internal evidence that Shade lives far south of New
> England (probably closer to Harrisonburg, VA).

(Though Odon or maybe Kinbote says New Wye is in New England.)

> I'm beginning to think that VN did not have a very firm notion of New
> England's borders, even though he lived in Massachusetts at one time.

Another possibility is that those borders are different in the world that
contains the states of Appalachia and Utana, not to mention "a little blurry
and unstable", with "little defocalizations", as Nabokov wrote about ideas
that developed into PF (*VNAY*, pp. 306-307).

> This is not so unusual; I have met Americans from other regions who thought
> New York state was part of New England, and the different nominal regions of
> the country do not appear as such on most maps--that is, most maps don't
> show that Maine, NH, Vermont, Mass, RI, and Conn together make up New
> England. It's kind of like the term "Yankee." Foreigners use it to refer to
> all Americans. In America, southerners use it to refer to people from the
> Union states (in the Civil War). In the north, Yankee refers to New
> Englanders (the NY Yankees baseball team notwithstanding). In New England,
> it refers most often to people from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (who
> despise, by the way, the NY Yankees).

This is also a joke whose punchline I don't get. It ends, "In New England,
'Yankee' means a Vermonter, and in Vermont, it means someone who eats pie
for breakfast."

Even more off the subject, in some Amish and related Mennonite groups,
"Yankee" means an American who's not part of those groups.

Jerry Friedman

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