NABOKV-L post 0018747, Thu, 5 Nov 2009 17:50:38 -0700

Re: ex Ponto
Nabokov's verse "ex Ponto," at the end of the Foreword to Speak, Memory,
would appear to be an echo of the Roman poet Ovid, who wrote a number of
poems "ex Ponto," referring to his exile at Tomis on the Black Sea
(Pontus). Like Ovid, Nabokov was writing from a strange land.

Naomi B. Pascal

On Sun, 1 Nov 2009, jansymello wrote:

> Brian Boyd (9 Oct 2009) Ada's first lines; Pontius: May I just note
> that Jansy could have answered these questions (and much, much, more) by
> checking AdaOline ( and clicking on Part
> 1 Chapter 1 and the Tolstoy references in the first paragraph? *
> Nabokov essayed various titles for his revisited autobiographical
> collection** and his preface ends with a verse on "ex Ponto." Like
> "Ponto," the name "Pontius" is related to the sea. The editorial house
> mentioned in Ada's opening lines ["another Tolstoy work, Detstvo i
> Otrochestvo (Childhood and Fatherland, Pontius Press, 1858)"] might be
> merely related to treacherous Pilate and to unfaithful translators.
> Nevertheless it could equally indicate, through Van's Memoirs, VN's
> nostalgic Ex Ponto ( his "Other shores", childhood & fatherland, exile).
> ......................................................................................
> * -Boyd on Pontius: 3.08: Pontius: See Darkbloom 3.01-08n. Pontius
> Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judaea from AD 26 to 36, was judge in
> the trial of Jesus Christ. See Mark 15:15: "And so Pilate, willing to
> content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus,
> when he had scourged him, to be crucified" (King James Version). In the
> Revised Standard Version the phrase I have italicized is rendered
> "wishing to satisfy the crowd." Cf. Nabokov's scorn for translations
> that betray the text in the interest of "the conventions attributed to
> the consumer" (EO I,vii).
> **- Nabokov-Wilson letters, April 7, 1947, n.164: "I'm writing two
> things now. 1. a short novel aboaut a man who liked little girls - and
> it's going to be called The Kingdom by the Sea - and 2. a new typo of
> autobiography - a scientific attempt to unravel and trace back all the
> tangled threads of one's personality - and the provisional title is The
> Person in Question." In September, 1950 Wilson states: " I don't like
> your title for your memoirs" and S.Karlinski explains:" Nabokov must
> have agreed for he changed the title of the book from Conclusive
> Evidence to Speak, Memory within a year after its publication. In March
> 19, 1951 Wilson returns to the charge: "I don't approve of the title,
> which is uninsteresting in itself - and what is the conclusive evidence?
> Against the Bolsheviks?" Nabokov, in his March 24 1951 response to EW
> writes: " A British publisher...I would have thrown hims "Clues" ( or
> "Mothing"!) Before this paragraph, VN mentions that he'd toyed with
> "Speak, Mnemosyne or Rainbow Edge" and links it to SKnight's "The
> Prismatic Bezel." In July 30, 1954 we learn that VN's autobiography was
> published in a Russian version with the title "Other Shores." (In Brazil
> we have different translators and distinct titles: "Fala, Memória" and
> "A Pessoa em Questão."In Portugal the title is "Na Outra Margem da
> Memória").
> About the Russian publication Cf. Nabokov Studies 8 (2004) 199-203,
> where Vladimir Mylnikov reviews "Maria Malikova. V. Nabokov.
> Auto-bio-grafiia." begining with: "Maria Malikova's monograph is the
> first extended Russian study of Nabokov's three memoirs: Conclusive
> Evidence, Speak, Memory, and Drugie berega (Other Shores). It is the
> first to cover the entire corpus of Nabokov's autobiographies (not just
> the Russian Drugie berega or the English Speak, Memory) and to treat
> them as integral parts of a single, integrated organism. Malikova also
> examines the fictional biographies in Nabokov's Russian novels. The
> volume concludes with the sixteenth and final chapter of Conclusive
> Evidence (in Sergey Ilyin's translation), which Nabokov omitted from all
> of the published versions. It appeared only in commemoration of the
> author's centenary in 1999...Malikova begins with a paradox: Speak,
> Memory, although "the ideal introduction" to the whole of Nabokov's
> oeuvre, is, in a sense marginal to that oeuvre...
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