NABOKV-L post 0010584, Sun, 14 Nov 2004 15:08:03 -0800

Re: Fw: time synchronizatio: coin
Alyssa's point is indeed worth bringing up since it is a theme central to
Nabokov's technique, especially in the compact masterpiece "Pnin," so fun to
read, so easy to underestimate. Appropriately, Pnin elucidates the timing in
AK in conversation with his old friend Bolotov, in the safety of The Pines,
the tiny, secret annex of Russia lovingly created by the successful emigre
now called "Al Cook." In many ways, The Pines is impervious to time,
especially for Pnin, who experiences heart-thumping episodes in which he
seems to "shade" back into the curious tapestry of life, with it's
recurring designs of squirrels and leaves. Clearly, from Pnin's explication
of Tolstoy's use of dueling passages of time, not only are all unhappy
families unhappy in different ways, they are unhappy at different speeds.
Occasionally tormented, but genuinely happy Levin and Kitty have literally
been stopping to smell the roses at a pace that leaves them a whole year
behind Vronski and Anna, who have propelled themselves forward, through
recriminations, suspicions, and ostracism, as madly as Vronski on his doomed
race horse. By the time Anna pitches herself beneath the freight train, they
have had more than four years of escalating misery. Levin and Kitty, on the
other hand, have had barely three years of spirituality and love.

The meaning of Pnin's lecture to Bolotov is, I submit, an example of Pnin's
own obliviousness to the action of this master force in his life. He is very
much aware, on some level, of the porous nature of time, through which his
first love Mira Belochkin appears again and again before him. He must thrust
her away though, since to not know the exact manner of her death leads him
to imagine a terrible frieze or collage of possible deaths. All the time,
though, the answer surrounds him. Even at his "house heating soiree" where
one of his best friends, the charming Joan Clements, with a few drinks
inside her, laughingly suggests, "But don't you think -- haw --that what he
is trying to do -- haw -- practically in all his novels -- haw -- is --
haw -- to express the fantastic recurrence of certain situations?"

The answer is yes. Joan refers to Vladimir Vladimirovich, our narrator,
Pnin's creator, who has been with us all along, mentioned briefly by Chateau
as Chateau accompanies Pnin for a ritual swim. He is the brief and careless
lover of Liza, and able to cast her aside in a way Pnin never could.
Fantastic recurrences obliterate death. They are the weft and the warp of
life's tapestry, a work of art at which millions of hands and minds are
eternally busy, all at their own sweet time.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004 9:51 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: time synchronizatio: coin

> EDNOTE. Alyssa's idea crossed my minf as well.
> ----- Forwarded message from -----
> Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2004 10:31:14 -0800 (PST)
> From: Alyssa Pelish <>
> Jansy,
> I wonder if it's worth bringing up, on a related note, VN's (or Pnin's, at
> least) interest in the subtly skewed presentation of time in _Anna
> I think (though this may be a misplaced memory) he discusses this in his
> lecture on the latter novel. Seems to be part of a general fascination
> time and patterns throughout time.
> Just thought I'd toss that out.
> Alyssa Pelish
> "D. Barton Johnson" <> wrote:
> ----- Original Message ----- From: Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello
> To: don barton johnson
> Sent: Friday, November 12, 2004 6:42 PM
> Subject: coin
> Hi, Don,
> I wonder if the text below can interest you and the List. I´ll send it on
> anyway.
> The idea is to bring out VN´s fascination with J.Joyce´s synchronization
> devices.
> The lines in TT about the cockshuttle ( that appears twice, at least,
after an
> interval of eight years), together with the theme of "picking up coins"
can be
> associated to VN´s Lecture on James Joyce, when VN comments about
> Part two, ch. 7 of "Ulysses":
> " in the second section the synchronization begins (...) See the
technique? It
> is now three. Kelleher sends a silent jet of hayjuice (...)and at the same
> in another part of the town a generous white arm ( Molly Bloom´s) from a
> in Eccles Street, three miles away to the northwest, flings forth a coin
to the
> one-legged sailor who has by now reached Eccles Street (...) Lenehan´s
> (...) is synchronized with Molly Bloom replacing the card advertising an
> unfurnished apartment that has slipped from the sash when she opened it to
> fling the one-legged sailor a penny.
> And since at that same time Kelleher was talking...(...) we conclude with
> tinge of artistic pleasure that sections 2,3 and 9 occurred simultaneously
> different places.
> ( pag.331/332 or 3:00 o´clock ) F. Bowers ed.1980.
> ---------------------------------
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> Check out the new Yahoo! Front Page.
> ----- End forwarded message -----

----- End forwarded message -----