Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015711, Tue, 27 Nov 2007 22:33:12 -0200

Re: THOUGHTS: Tumbled Beds
Matt Roth wrote: "I've been doing some image-collecting in VN's works and thought I'd share what I've found (all emphases mine): Pale Fire: "She'd criticize / Ferociously our projects, and with eyes / Expressionless sit on her tumbled bed / Spreading her swollen feet, scratching her head..." Context: Shade's description of Hazel
Thoughts: Is there a thread that runs though all of these tumblings? I believe so. In each case, except for that of Hazel, there is an obvious sexual context. ..The two occurrences of "tumbled" in PF are interesting because the first occurrence ...Hazel's tumbled bed is presented to us along with her "swollen feet." Given that the Greek word for "swollen feet" is oedipus, we perhaps should consider ways in which Hazel's tumbled bed resembles the other tumblings in VN's works."

Jansy Mello: Your comments made me think about the rhymes about "Jack and Jill" with its implication of a "fall" and even "fallen" in relation to "tumble". Quite an interesting collection of examples and line of research.

I wonder, though, about the Oedipal theme. I don't know how informed VN was on myths and Greek but Hazel's swollen feet, considered by themselves, are not sufficient as an indication of paedophilia &incest.
Oedipus' father was called Laius, his grandfather Labdacus. I cannot now remember the exact translation of their names but all three refer to L-shaped legs and a limp: the reference to this "claudicating lineage" is of importance ( among several other componentes of a myth that also deals with 'royal investiture" and appeared in a play bearing the title "Oedipus Tyrannus", a reference to Kings that have no royal blood, as it was initially thought of Oedipus). Shade had problems with his legs, though: would this somehow be significant? ( I always thought of Hazel's swollen feet and tumbled bed in relation to one of TSEliot's poems and a girl rubbing her yellow soles)

RSGwynn wrote: "There's also a Nabokovian twist in "waxwing"; the very name contains a double--"double-you--double-you"-- which is reminiscent of Poe's most famous doppelganger story, "WilliamWilson.".

Jansy Mello: Could the choices of waxwing and apple ( linked as they are through ampelis and sampel) have been dictated by poetic criteria more than by any allusion or indication?
Shade was "artistically caged" ( like a bird?) and his house, like the apple, is "a fortress".
I would like to link this "prison" and "a bird" to Priscilla Meyer's observations about Pale Fire. In connection to "double darkness" (in the opening paragraph of Speak Memory) P. Meyer brought up the Venerable Bede who compared man´s life on earth to the arrow flight of a small sparrow crossing a lighted hall "passing from winter into winter". In her book she also registers that "as has been demonstrated by Jean-Christophe Castelli, Nabokov uses the metaphor of the house, of enclosure, for the concept of mortal time, with windows as the point of transition into and out of it".( Find What the Sailor Has Hidden,Vladimir Nabokov´s 'Pale Fire' pg73).
Structurally speaking, the waxwing, unlike the uneaten apple which was reflected onto the ground, became not only a "smudge of ashen fluff" but it also "lived on, flew on in the reflected sky"...

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