Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008637, Tue, 23 Sep 2003 17:20:46 -0700

Fw: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3563
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Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 12:00 AM
Subject: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3563

> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 20:47:05 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Michael Joseph <mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu>
> Subject: Re: VNabokov, PF discussion, general.
> Frost is an obvious guess, but I keep seeing a resemblance to the young
> Howard Nemerov--particularly since Nemerov sometimes described his
> reputation as that of the second greatest N.E. poet after Robert Frost.
> Michael
> >
> >
> > http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabokov
> >
> > Well, welcome back, Perry. Talking about oneself in the third person
may be
> > a
> > sign of Pirate Prentice sun-crazies, it's now 109 degrees in the
Valley--, or
> > may just be a stab at humor.
> >
> > Not having yet confered with Vince on our hosting this section of Pale
> > what
> > chapters again? (My files are ludicrous= nonexistent)
> > just thought I'd throw this out. And finally, something I can sink my
> > into,
> > VN's butterflies that sting like bees.
> >
> > And, remembering from my first reading of PF that I was sure that John
> > was loosely based on Robert Frost, who was the most famous rhyming poet
> > the
> > 1950's, Could I get directions to a website that features his work, esp.
> > later
> > work? I get a real clear sense by VN's tone he was holding his nose a
> > when
> > considering the Puritan dreck that most Eastern poets were putting out,
> > Black Mountain and pre-plain speech stuff.
> >
> > but maybe I'm just prejudiced because I've been studying, no glorying in
> > non-dreck
> > poetry since I decided Pound was an interesting hick, stuck on beauty
> > with
> > no political politesse; Eliot an anti-Semite and stuck, like Lowell
> > on his
> > latent Catholicism; and really most interesting writers of the
modernist era
> > were
> > cummings, WCWilliams and Hart Crane, who died early.
> >
> > Frost died very late in a storied and finally celebrified career.
> >
> > Perry Sams,
> > SIG: whatever.
> > whatever
> >
> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 20:46:25 -0400
> From: Terrance <lycidas2@earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re: VLVL: What troubles Zoyd's sleep?
> Michael Joseph wrote:
> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 22:34:08 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Michael Joseph <mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu>
> Subject: NPPR: Commentary Line 137 Lemniscate
> Kinbote's weary dictionary defines lemniscate as "A unicursal bicircular
> quartic." (Perhaps in "weary" we see Nabokov's amused sympathies for his
> own put-upon readers--having to bear with his goetic nebulations and
> helical comedos--and/or perhaps his (pre-Derrida) sense of language's
> deferral of meaning.)
> The OED defines "unicursal" thusly: "Having, traversing, or being on one
> course or path," certainly bike like. OED defines bicircular: "Applied to
> a class of quartic curves each of which passes twice through each of the
> circular points at infinity, and thus resembles (analytically, and
> sometimes in form) a pair of circles."
> Not having yet seen a compelling explanation for why a lemniscate should
> so enrapture Shade ("the miracle of a lemniscate"), I am more engaged by
> the idea that the shape is placed before us and emphasized in the
> commentary so that readers might track it within what Kinbote calls the
> "mirrorplay and mirage shimmer" of the book. A lemniscate for example
> suggests a single mother cell more than half way divided into two daughter
> cells (birth imagery worthy of Shade's "envy?" "miraculous?" Does Shade,
> like Leo Bloom, wish to have been a mother?). In a sense, one can think of
> _Pale Fire_ as a very mitotic composition. Nabokov splits into two
> imperfectly separate selves, Shade himself splits into shadow and waxwing,
> (Heidegger's being in the world and being ahead of oneself); likewise
> incompletely severed, Kinbote splits into Kinbote and Charles (or is it
> Botkin who splits? or is it King Charles who splits, like the egg in the
> hands of Lear's fool into Kinbote and Botkin . . .).
> A lemniscate is produced when one draws a semi circle and positions it
> beside a hand mirror, so that the open edges are made contiguous; not just
> a reasonable metaphor for the poem and commentary in an ideal sense (the
> open part of the circle represented by the missing line 1000, which is
> mirrored in turn by Kinbote's/Botkin's foreboding on p. 301), or because
> its mask-like shape connotes the identity game and name game which readers
> are led to play, but, along those lines, for the enterprize of a kind of
> interpretation in which the creative essence of the original narrative is
> preserved, at the expense of its particular uniqueness. (Wilde's idea that
> criticism should excite the reader to no less a degree than the poem that
> has excited the critic.) B/K 'lemniscates' Shade's elliptical poem in the
> process of reimagining himself and his history, and the reader
> 'lemniscates' Nabokov's novel through playful conjecture (for which
> Nabokov's lemniscatic Psyche imagery serves as a persistent and
> self-referential symbol). Without intending damage toward Nabokov's
> Olympian detachment, one might even ask whether (lemniscatic) mirrorplay
> isn't being offered as an alternative to competition and violence. (See,
> for example, Mihai I. Spariosu's "The Wreath of Wild Olive." (Albany: SUNY
> Press, 1997), in which are examined texts by Nabokov as well as
> Dostoevsky, Eliade, Devi and Lowry (review link:
> In hs review, Andrew Brown notes, "For Spariosu, criticism should indulge
> the "ludic-irenic perspective" that literature presents. Literature can
> have a salutary effect on culture at large by virtue of its connection
> with the ethos of a community. As Spariosu argues, "by playfully staging a
> real or an imaginary world and presenting it from various perspectives,
> literature contributes to a certain community and hence can assume an
> important role in bringing about historical change."
> This conceptualization of Nabokov's mirrorplay opens up what might
> otherwise seem stale solipsism (i.e., this is my opinion and if ya don't
> like it, t.s., buddy boy), and shades nicely into the notion of
> contrapuntal texts, a musical collaboration in which creativity calls
> forth creative response, becoming consensual validation, which, perhaps,
> is what Shade longs for when he first sees the lemniscate described in the
> sand. (As distinct and opposite to the competitive play "with other
> chaps.")
> Okay, enough, go away Michael.
> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 20:59:31 -0700
> From: "sZ" <keithsz@concentric.net>
> Subject: Dmitri Nabokov comments
> - ----- Original Message -----
> From: "D. Barton Johnson" <chtodel@cox.net>
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 7:36 PM
> Subject: Fw: Dmitri Nabokov comments on recent NABOKV-L postings
> Message
> - ----- Original Message -----
> From: Dmitri
> To: D. Barton Johnson
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 3:29 PM
> Subject: finis
> Dear Friends,
> As I prepare to emerge from the hospital after a couple of operations, I
> dictate this letter by phone. If there are any typos this time my
> will be deprived of her afternoon cookie for a week. My own sin was having
> possibly misconstrued the erudite Mr. Morris's use of the expression
> "nothing if not a linguistic showoff." After quite a few decades of US
> citizenship and some lecturing at US universities, young Master Nabokov
> happen to know the American vernacular nuance of this locution, something
> the order of "if you strip Nabokov of all his medals, he will still be a
> linguistic showoff."
> I am happy to accept Jansy Etcetera's epithets, since "a gauche white
> knight" sounds like a rare species indeed. But JE's sense of proportion is
> little off. A check of the file will reveal that I have devoted a good
> more time and printer ink to answering questions and providing interesting
> tidbits and graphics than charging at windmills in my father's defense.
> Whether or not I defend him, or someone attempts to demean him, I doubt
> his status in the literary macrocosm will change much. I think it was the
> kind and perceptive Tim Strzechowski who observed that I do know
> things about my parents that others may not know. But contrary to what
> Etcetera somewhat bombastically suggests, I have never taken myself as the
> highest scholarly authority on VN (if that is JE's meaning). There are
> outstanding specialists: Johnson, Dolinin, Nicol, Parker, to name a few,
> especially Brian Boyd. In fact, the latter's stunning expertise on ADA,
> which has continued to develop ever since he came to see my mother and me
> Montreux on the wings of his doctoral thesis -- a visit that led to the
> writing of the only Nabokov biography worthy of the name -- now prompts me
> to extend to him a public invitation: to write an introduction, and
> provide his existing notes, for a new Russian translation of ADA, the
> perhaps, to be worthy of its name. An exceptional introduction is sorely
> needed to counterbalance certain Russian hacks, the worst of whom, not
> ago, goofed again while introducing a barely recognizable ADA. Yes, I mean
> the same worthy gentleman who claimed, in a recent, unposted literary
> harangue, that the report of my death in some Russian gazette voided any
> claim against a major Nabokov piracy of his.
> I am glad that the boobstorm has abated; that interesting discussions of
> Pynchon and Nabokov have resumed on the P-List; that an absorbing ADA
> dialogue between Don and Brian, set off partly by the Showoff Shenanigans,
> continues to delight and enlighten us on the N-List; and that I have
> to be the target of an arsenal -- or half-arsenal -- of infantile
> With my best wishes to all,
> DN
> ------------------------------
>> ------------------------------
> End of pynchon-l-digest V2 #3563
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