NABOKV-L post 0017357, Thu, 20 Nov 2008 11:22:55 +0000

Re: Poetry: Language and Love ...
Jansy: I distinguish the HH/Annabel and Dante/Beatrice ³encounters² for two
reasons. First the ages: HH/A = 13-14/11-12 [?], D/B = 8/9 (which is saying
much more than ³both [pairs] were children!²). Second, and more significant:
HH/A get mighty close to physical mutual consummation; Dante, as far as we
know, kept his distance, pining away in sublimating verse. As your footnotes
suggest, there¹s no evidence that Dante and Beatrice met socially, or that
she was ever aware of his unrequited, indeed a-sexual, love.

The notion of self-imposed ³literary constraint² is hard to pin down. At the
³daft² extreme, we have ³let¹s avoid the letter E.² At the more traditional
artistic ends, we have writers such as Nabokov working under
carefully-reasoned, openly-acknowledged aesthetic ³restraints,² which can be
roughly translated as ³avoid inelegant didactic rubbish!² Somewhere In
between, we have many ³stimulating² impositions: iambics; rhymes; haiku;
sonnets. Interesting to note how improvised creativity often turns out to
depend on quite rigid structures, e.g., the Blues A-A-payoff line sequence
with ³preset² harmonics.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 19/11/2008 16:09, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> J.Aisenberg [responds to By "linguistic proxy" do you mean a fetish? ] "I
> suppose in a strict, non-Freudian sense I do mean "fetish". Meaning that his
> words are a magical kind of stand in. I meant this two ways: One Dolores Haze
> herself is used to by Humbert to regain Annabel; and then when he loses Lolita
> he uses his memoir to bring her back, to stick her to his aura forever"
> Stan K-Bootle [quotes³There is a[...] tradition of writers who work within
> self-imposed formal or linguistic constraints. It includes Samuel Beckett,
> Italo Calvino and Vladimir Nabokov..." and adds ² I see little relevance to
> VN¹s creative word-play." and, in another posting: "I¹m away from my books,
> but recall VN in Lolita[...] mentions the fact that Beatrice was 9 years old
> when Dante was ³smitten²[...]Wiki says she was 8 and Dante 9, so we don¹t have
> either the HH/Lo or HH/Annabelle
> syndrome."....................................................................
> ..............................................................................
> ......................
> JM: Bereft of Freudian sense or not, JA's contribution on "linguistic proxy"
> comes close to what I think, as regards VN's prose in general and not only
> HH's. I was reminded of N.Tharne's views on Dante and Beatrice "...indeed he
> may have dreamed the whole poem, Borges suggests, in order to engineer a
> re-encounter:..He receives her smile at the end of Paradiso only to see her
> turn away from him forever. But Dante has gained the poem... " * With a
> malevolent turn this also happens in Ian McEwan's "Reparation" by Briony in
> relation to the pair of lovers she'd forced apart. The writer power over past
> and future events can be, fetichistically, extreme.
> Stan K-B noted that since Dante and Beatrice were 8 and 9 when they first met
> "there is no HH/Lo or HH/Annabelle syndrome." And yet, both HH/Annabel met as
> children (just like VN's "first love", Colette , in SM. Poe, as we know, was
> in his late twenties when he married his cousin Virginia Clemm, then 13 and in
> a different direction, in Lolita, we read:"The only definite sexual events
> that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is,
> before I first saw my little Annabel)" whereas in Poe's Annabel poem we find:
> I was a child and she was a child,/In this kingdom by the sea;/But we loved
> with a love that was more than love-I and my Annabel Lee, returning to the
> theme related to courtly idealized love like Dante's.)
> S K-B also criticized the comparison bt. Nabokov and those romance autors who
> pursue inspiration by submitting to literary constraints, with which I agree!
> I know that John Shade labored under the strictures of rhyme and cadence
> almost successfuly **, but this exceptional example remains the only clear
> example I can now bring to mind.
> In old classic movies there were often scenes in which the hero, in the verge
> of falling in love, quoted lines by famous poets and his heart fell head over
> heels ( a Borgian "wink of the metaphor" ) when the beloved quoted back
> without resorting to Google. I always had the impression that to be truly
> English, or to fall in love, you needed a quick memory for the "iambic motors"
> of a thousand lines by Keats, Marvel, Pope and Shakespeare.
> As if, when falling in love, it was Mnemosyne who strived to find a mirror to
> kiss herself...(naughty Mnemosyne)
> Fortunately these are mere movie ploys, since I only know very few famous
> lines to recite. And yet, whenever I read one or two lines by Shade there is
> an insistent mumble at the back of my mind. As if another poet was trying to
> fall in step or finger the windowpane. I could never get rid of this troubling
> rumble. I Finally managed to spot one of these murmuring moans in
> Shakespeare's sonnet XXX.
> (I'd been trying to discover it through Eliot's references *** but it didn't
> work. It had to do with feet and jambes)
> Shade wrote:(line 865/6) Now I shall spy on beauty as none has/ Spied on it
> yet. Now I shall cry out as";(line 924/5)Now I shall speak of evil as none
> has/Spoken before....)"
> The crazy not really matching rythm I heard was: "Then can I grieve at
> grievances foregone..." [...]
> Query: Has anyone experienced something similar, this hidden noise, adding a
> familiar but forgotten depth to Shade's lines? I wonder what poets would make
> their ghostly appearance that way in some of the readers.
> .........................................
> * - Wikipedia extracts: Beatrice Portinari, real name Bice di Folco Portinari
> [1] (1266­1290) was a woman from Florence, Italy, who was the principal
> inspiration for Dante Alighieri's Vita Nuova. She also appears as his guide in
> Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) in the last book, Paradise, and in the last
> four canti of Purgatory. There Beatrice takes over as guide from the Latin
> poet Virgil because, as a pagan, Virgil cannot enter Paradise and because,
> being the incarnation of beatific love, as her name implies, it is she who
> leads into the Beatific vision [...] According to the autobiographic La Vita
> Nuova, Beatrice and Dante met only twice during their lives. This statement,
> however, is highly questionable[...] Even less credible is the numerology
> behind these encounters; marking out Dante's life in periods of nine years.
> This amount of time falls in line with Dante's repeated use of the number
> three or multiples of, derived from the Holy Trinity[...] It is more likely
> that [...]Beatrice, like Petrarch's Laura, seem to blur the line between an
> actual love interest and a means employed by the poet in his
> creations[...].Dante first met Beatrice in Florence, his home city, when he
> was nine years old and she was eight, around 1274. He... wrote in La Vita
> Nuova: Ecce Deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi ("Behold, a deity
> stronger than I; who coming, shall rule over me.") he made great efforts to
> ensure his thoughts of Beatrice remained private, even writing poetry for
> another lady, so as to use her as a "screen for the truth" Dante's courtly
> love for Beatrice continued for nine years...In one of Dante's dreams God made
> Beatrice eat his flaming heart:"he made her to eat that thing which flamed in
> his hand; and she ate as one fearing."[...]The manner in which Dante chose to
> express his love for Beatrice often agreed with the Middle Ages concept of
> courtly love. Courtly love was a secret, unrequited and highly respectful form
> of admiration for another person.[...Dante's idea of] her being a force for
> good that he fell in love with, a force which he believed made him a better
> person. This is certainly viable, since he does not seem concerned with her
> appearance - at least not in his writings.
> T.S.Eliot: Four Quartets, East Cocker:
> **[...]A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
> Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
> With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
> ***- John Shade (line 167/178): "There was a time in my demented
> youth"..."There was the day when...","there was the sleepless night " & line
> 993: (Leaning against its lamppost like a drunk.)
> T.S. Eliot: [...]... there is a time for building
> And a time for living and for generation
> And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
> [...] In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
> Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
> [...]Where you lean against a bank while a van passes...
> John Shade( line 368): "Mother, what's grimpen" ..(line 499/500)"a blurry
> shape stepped off the reedy bank/ Into a crackling, gulping swamp, and
> sank.."[...] T.S.Eliot:In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
> but all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
> On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
> And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
> Risking enchantment [...]

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