NABOKV-L post 0011633, Fri, 15 Jul 2005 07:45:20 -0700

Fw: Correction

----- Original Message -----
From: Sergey Karpukhin

Dear All,

A thimbleful of thoughts on the Nabokov-Frost issue. I have been reading Frost recently in a 1983 bilingual (English-Russian) anthology of American poetry, and this edition's commentator mentions at one point that "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a poem which Frost would have liked to see with a 40-page commentary to it and that it contains all the poet ever knew (both these statements are quoted from: R. Cook. R. Frost's Asides on his Poetry, in: American Literature, Jan. 1948, pp. 355-357). If VN was familiar with the 1958 Saturday Review issue which featured Ciardi's commentary on "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", he might have been interested in seeing the poem itself, especially if he knew Ciardi, as Ron Rosenbaum suggests. My point is that "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" seems a better candidate for the role of the only Frost poem VN knew. I cannot claim it as proven, of course, but I suggest that given Frost's "asides" on this poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" could also more pertinently serve as an "inspiration" for PALE FIRE.

I do not agree, however, that the image of the bird killed in a collision with a windowpane is borrowed from Frost. I am sure it could occur to VN himself without any textual aide. Just as it did to Iris Murdoch in her first novel UNDER THE NET (1954) where there is a sentence: "My heart sprang within me and fell like a bird striking a window pane" (p. 84 in my edition).

PS Joseph Brodsky once said that he had been arguably the best Frostian [or the biggest Frost fan] in the Soviet Union, in the 1960s.

PPS There was (I don't know if it's still there) an MP3 audio of Frost reading his "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" on the web.


Sergey Karpukhin