Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008677, Mon, 29 Sep 2003 09:05:25 -0700

Fw: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3576
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> pynchon-l-digest Monday, September 29 2003 Volume 02 : Number
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 23:41:44 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Michael Joseph <mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu>
> Subject: Re: NPPR Line 143 a clockwork toy
> On Sat, 27 Sep 2003, Mary Krimmel wrote:
> > Thanks to Glenn Scheper for the Lychnos of Revelation. But Kinbote saw a
> > candlestick, not a candle. There is no reason to suppose that Kinbote
> > "candle". Nor is there reason to suppose that VN meant "candle",
> > he may have (probably did) intend the word to suggest a candle, a light
> > gone out, etc.
> >
> My fault. Candle-stick it is. My initial post was inconsistent.
> Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 23:51:23 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Michael Joseph <mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu>
> Subject: Re: NPPF Cloutish: Spenser For [Pale] Fire
> Perhaps the reference bikes its way past Spenser, to Skelton, who in 1521
> wrote Colyn Cloute, and gave us Dame Sybly.
> And the selfe same game
> Begone ys now with shame
> Amongest the sely nonnes :
> My lady nowe she ronnes,
> Dame Sybly our abbesse,
> Dame Dorothe and lady Besse,
> Dame Sare our pryoresse,
> Out of theyr cloyster and quere
> With an heuy chere,
> Must cast vp theyr blacke vayles,
> And set vp theyr fucke sayles,
> To catche wynde with their
> ventales
> What, Colyne, there thou shales !
> Yet thus with yll hayles
> The lay fee people rayles.
> On Fri, 26 Sep 2003, sZ wrote:
> > http://www.jimnielson.com/grooves/colin.html
> >
> > These isolated allusions to Colin in the 1580s already exemplify the
> > person of the Cloutish trinity to come: author, character, and wholly
> > But it is in an uneasy mix of the first and last that he tends to make
> > reappearances, a kind of extant patron saint of upwardly mobile
> > subject to endless revision as the attributes of the historical Spenser
> > are inconsistent with the closed myth of the calendrical Colin get
> > anachronistically attached to him.
> >
> >
> >
> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 20:59:32 -0700
> From: "sZ" <keithsz@concentric.net>
> Subject: Re: NPPF Cloutish: Spenser For [Pale] Fire
> English writer and friend of the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser; the
> celebrated their friendship in The Shepheardes Calender (1579) through the
> characters of Hobbinol (Harvey) and Colin Clout (Spenser). Harvey was also
> noted for his tenacious participation in literary feuds.
> Harvey, Gabriel
> (b. 1550?, Saffron Walden, Essex, Eng.--d. 1630), English writer and
> of the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser; the latter celebrated their
> friendship in The Shepheardes Calender (1579) through the characters of
> Hobbinol (Harvey) and Colin Clout (Spenser). Harvey was also noted for his
> tenacious participation in literary feuds.
> The son of a ropemaker, Harvey matriculated at Christ College, Cambridge,
> 1566, received his bachelor's degree in 1570, and became a fellow at
> Pembroke Hall (later Pembroke College) that same year. At Pembroke he
> an intimate friend of Spenser. In 1578 Harvey became a fellow of Trinity
> Hall, Cambridge, and began to study civil law, but in 1585 he failed to be
> elected master of Trinity Hall and was not admitted to a doctor's degree
> there. He completed his doctorate in civil law at Oxford University. In
> he published Foure Letters and Certaine Sonnets, which contained a
> account of the death of the writer Robert Greene and which further
> him in a long-running pamphlet war with the author Thomas Nashe. The
> literary combat with Nashe continued until 1599, when the archbishop of
> Canterbury ordered each man's satires to be burned. In 1598 Harvey
> petitioned for the mastership of Trinity Hall but again was not elected,
> about this time he retired.
> Though represented as an argumentative and malicious pedant by some of his
> contemporaries, Harvey was nonetheless a talented scholar and literary
> stylist. He entered into print only reluctantly; his few published
> include two lectures on rhetoric, elegies and other verses in Latin, and
> several elegantly styled letters between himself and Spenser. His chief,
> though unfulfilled, aim was the introduction of the classical hexameter
> English poetry.
> ------------------------------
> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 02:16:28 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Michael Joseph <mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu>
> Subject: NPPR Commentary Line 149: gloss p. 137-142
> Kinbote's commentary from page 137 until the middle of page 147 comprises
> part of the escape story of Charles, the last king of Zembla (var, King
> Charles, Charles Xavier, Charlie). Nabokov leaves the artificia of
> clockwork toys and lemniscates for the naturalia of the mountains; after
> a descent into the underworld of Shade's basement comes an ascent into the
> Bear Range. Bearote stages the flight of Charles and, briefly, his man
> Friday, the actor Odon (left off on p. 135), with a strident command of
> geographical detail. Replacing the peevish, distractible Kinbote (e.g., "I
> cannot understand what this has to do with cycling" (p. 136); "but never
> mind, now the rusty clockwork shall work again, for I have the key" (p.
> 137)) is Kinbote the capacious if somewhat tedious travel writer.
> After parting with Odon, and several paragraphs of exact topographical
> description, and struggling along alone in the dark, Kinbote's Charles
> comes upon a farmhouse, where he meets a "gnarled farmer and his plump
> wife" (p. 140). The story of Charles's sojourn here is a version of the
> Tale Ovid tells of Philemon and Baucis in book viii of his
> "Metamorphosis," a tale appropriated by Swift and Goethe, and in its
> broader aspect, the ancient theme of showing kindness to strangers, a
> theme repeated throughout the Odyssey and the Bible. So, for example,
> there's the story about a Samaritan city not accepting Christ and his
> disciples because they were going toward Jerusalem; James and John wanted
> to obliterate them by calling fire down from heaven (cf. 2 Kings 1), but
> Christ rebuked them for being of the wrong spirit (Luke 9.51-56).
> There's also the O.T. story of the reception of the angels in Sodom
> (Genesis 19) and of the Levite in Gibeah (Judges 19).
> Discussing the category of tales as "saints wander on Earth," Stith
> Thompson notes:
> "Sometimes the unknown holy men are lodged, but the host, not realizing
> who they are, mistreats them. In the tale of Christ and Peter in the Barn
> (Type 752A), they are not allowed to sleep in the house, and the peasant
> forces theem to rise early and help with the threshing in order to pay for
> their lodging. Christ separates the grain miraculously by means of fire.
> When the peasant tries to imitate, he burns his barn down. This tale was
> retold by Hans Sachs in the sixteenth century; as an oral tradition it
> seems to be confined almst entirely to the Baltic area. It has been
> reported, but only sporadically, from Flanders, Denmark, and Roumania.
> "The two elements in ths tale are paralleled elsewhere. The boorish
> treatment of the guests by the host is found in another poem of Hans
> Sachs, the Story of the Savior and Peter in Night Lodgings. Here Christ
> and Peter are sleeping in the same bed. The drunken host returns home and
> beats Peter, who persuades Christ to change places with him. The host then
> comes in to beat the other lodger, and Peter again receives the blows."
> (The Folktale 150-51)
> Nabokov plays comically on the theme of the incognito wandering of saints.
> Charles Xavier goes unrecognized by Griff, his greedy wife, and their
> sluttish daughter, Garh, who, nevertheless, treat him charitably.
> Apparently, the story partly derives from Kinbote's deluded, meglomaniacal
> sense of his own glorious clandestine identity. He goes among the rustics
> of New Wye just as Charles Xavier goes among the peasants in the
> godforsaken Brera mountains. But although the coarse and doltish Griff is
> an amusing burlesque of John Shade, the parallel of Garh, "a mere
> mechanism of haphazard lust" (p. 142) with Shade's romantically desolated
> daughter is an outrage. Kinbote's smug and unfeeling depiction of Garh is
> a variation upon the rejection that leads Shade's daughter to take her
> life.
> Kinbote's retelling of this "old tedous tale" concludes thusly:
> "She was about to proceed with her stripping but he stopped her with a
> gesture and got up. he thanked her for all her kindness. He patted the
> innocent dog; and without turning once, with a springy step, the King
> started to walk up the turfy incline."
> Nabokov's ferocity toward Kinbote is revealed candidly here, particularly
> in the detail of the "innocent dog," an unmistakable example of what he
> considered "poshlust." In his monograph on Nikolai Gogol, copyrighted in
> 1944 and reprinted in 1959, VN spends a few pages describing poshlust, a
> term of singular contempt, which he calls "that fat brute of a word."
> That he makes KInbote an emissary of poshlust is a marker of Nabokov's
> contempt for him.
> P. 63 "The Russian language is able to express by means of one pitiless
> word the idea of a certain widespread defect for which the other three
> European languages I happen to know possess no special term.. . . I find
> it preferable to trasncribe that fat brute of a word thus: poshlust--which
> renders in a somewhat more adequate manner the dull sound of the second,
> neutral "o." Inversely the first "o" is as big as the plop of an elephant
> falling into a muddy pond and as round as the bosom of a bathing beauty on
> a German picture postcard."
> P. 64 "English words expressing several althoug by no means all aspects of
> poshlust are for instance: 'cheap, sham, common, smutty, pink-and-blue,
> high falutin', in bad taste.' My little assistant, Roget's Thesaurus ...
> supplies me moreover with 'inferior, sorry, trashy, scurvy, tawdry,
> gimcrack' and others under 'cheapness.' All these however suggest merely
> certain false values for the detection of which no particular sherewdness
> is required. . . . but what Russians call poshlust is beautifully timeless
> and so cleverly painted all over with protective tints that its presence
> (in a book, in a soul, in an institution, in a thousand other places)
> often escapes detection.
> P. 65-66 " . . . Gogol, in a chance story he told, expressed the immortal
> spirit of poshlust pervading the German nation and expressed it with all
> the vigor of his genius. The conversation around him had turned upon the
> subject of Germany, and after listening awhile, Gogol said: 'Yes,
> generally speaking teh average German is not too pleasant a creature, but
> it is impossible to imagine anything more unpleasant than a German
> Lothario, a German who tries to be winsome. . . . One day in Germany I
> happened to run across such a gallant. The dwelling place of the maiden
> whom he had long been courting without succeses stood on the bank of some
> lake or other, and there she would be every evening sitting on her balcony
> and doing two things at once: knitting a stocking and enjoying the view.
> My German gallant being sick of the futility of his pursuit finally
> devised an unfailing means whereby to conquer the heart of his cruel
> Gretchen. Every evening he would take off his clothes, plunge into the
> lake and, as he swam there, rightunder the eyes of his beloved,he would
> keep embracing a couple of swans which had been specially prepared by him
> for that puirpose. I do not quite know what those swans were supposed to
> symbolize, but I do know that for several evenings on end he did nothing
> but float about and assume pretty postures with his birds under that
> precious balcony. Perhapshe fancied there was somehing poetically antique
> and mythological in such frolics, but whatevber notion he had, the result
> proved favorable to his intentions: the lady's heart was conquered just as
> he thought it would be, and soon they were happily married.'
> "Here you have poshlust in its ideal form, and it is clear that the terms
> trivial, trashy, smug and so on do not cover the aspect it takes in ths
> epic of the blond swimmer and the two swans he fondled... ."
> P. 70 "From the various examples collected here it will be I hope clear
> that poshlust is not only the obviously trashy but also the falsely
> important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely
> attractive ... ."
> Michael
> P.S. For references to King and peasant girl in Pynchon, see V, P. 77.
> ------------------------------
> End of pynchon-l-digest V2 #3576
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