Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008856, Tue, 4 Nov 2003 13:31:30 -0800

Fwd: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3636
Subject: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3636
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pynchon-l-digest Monday, November 3 2003 Volume 02 : Number 3636



Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 09:29:15 -0500
From: "Jasper Fidget" <fakename@verizon.net>
Subject: NPPF some notes pp 224-235 (1)

p. 224
"She had weaned her husband not only from the Episcopal Church of his
fathers, but from all forms of sacramental worship"

K blames Sybil for Shade's apostasy.

p. 224

From Webster's 1913:

neb"u*la`ted (?), a. Clouded with indistinct color markings, as an animal.

p. 224
"Confession with us is auricular"

auricular "Of confession: spoken into the ear, private. LME" (OED).

p. 224
"shaped almost exactly as the coronation chair of a Scottish king"

Perhaps alluding to the "Stone of Scone" or Stone of Destiny, reputedly
first referred to in Genesis 28:18 as Jacob's pillow, passed on to the
Egyptians and then to the King of Spain. In 700 BCE it supposedly traveled
to Ireland with an invasion force led by Simon Brech, the Spanish King's
son, and placed atop the sacred Hill of Tara where it was called the Stone
of Desinty ("Lia-Fail" or the "fatal" stone). When an Irish king sat on it
during his coronation, it was said to groan aloud if the king was of the
royal race but remain silent if he was a pretender. Something like a
millennium later it was brought to Scotland by Fergus Mor MacEirc, the
founder of the Scottish monarchy, and later installed in the monastery of
Scone in Perthshire where it remained as the seat of the throne upon which
the kings of Scotland were crowned. In 1296 King Edward I brought it to
Westminster Abbey and installed it in a new Coronation Chair. For a long
time thereafter it became a symbol of oppression for Scottish nationalists,
who eventually managed to steal it in 1950. It was recovered a few months
later and stored in a vault until 1996 when John Major had it returned
finally to Scotland. It can now be seen in Edinburgh Castle, but will
travel back to Westminster for the next coronation.


p. 224
"SHADE:" etc

The dramatic format of the next several pages parallels a number of similar
passages from Boswell's Life of Johnson, notably:

BOSWELL. 'But you would not have me to bind myself by a solemn obligation?'
JOHNSON. (much agitated,) 'What! a vow--O, no, Sir, a vow is a horrible
thing, it is a snare for sin. The man who cannot go to Heaven without a
vow-- may go--' Here, standing erect, in the middle of his library, and
rolling grand, his pause was truly a curious compound of the solemn and the
ludicrous; he half-whistled in his usual way, when pleasant, and he paused,
as if checked by religious awe. Methought he would have added--to Hell--but
was restrained. I humoured the dilemma. 'What! Sir, (said I,) In caelum
jusseris ibit?' alluding to his imitation of it,--

'And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.'

(Boswell, Chapter XXIX)

p. 225
"L'homme est né bon"

Man was born good.

p. 225
"SHADE: Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an
even greater one."

See Emerson's "Circles": "Life is a series of surprises. We do not guess
to-day the mood, the pleasure, the power of to-morrow."


Shade's speech reinforces the surprise / death connection, as with Dim Gulf
/ Gulf of Surprise (p. 68, 138).

p. 226

"A mythical conductor of souls to the place of the dead. Also, the spiritual
guide of a (living) person's soul" (OED)

p. 227
"St Augustine said"

The quote is from Augustine's _De Trinitate_ (On the Trinity).


p. 228
"I have no time for such stupidities"

He doesn't have time because he will be dead soon. He's making amends for
any of his perceived sins in anticipation of having just one to report
(suicide) when he arrives in the afterlife.

p. 228
"Far be it from me to hint at the existence of some other woman in my
friend's life."

Kinbote then does exactly that.

p. 229
"A farcical pedant of whom the less said the better"

In reference to Professor Pnin from VN's novel of the same name. Note that
_Pnin_ is shorter than _Pale Fire_.

Jasper Fidget


Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 09:29:23 -0500
From: "Jasper Fidget" <fakename@verizon.net>
Subject: NPPF some notes pp 224-235 (2)

p. 230
"as Parmentier had his pet tuber undergo"

French agriculturalist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737-1813) who
introduced the potato to France.


p. 231
"see note to line 664"

Whether this is a typo or if there's some deeper meaning, there is no note
to line 664; the Goethe reference is in the note to line 662.

p. 231
"Tanagra Dust"

Tanagra, a Boeotian town near Pindar's Thebes. Birthplace of the Greek poet
Korinna (~500 BCE), one of the nine earthly muses, who according to
Pausanias defeated Pindar in a poetry competition.

"Korinna wrote choral poetry for celebrations using a Boeotian dialect.
Unlike Pindar, she focused on local myths, and drew parallels between the
world of mythology and ordinary human behavior."


Tanagra was also the site of a large battle in 457 BCE (First Peloponnesian
War) in which the Spartans defeated the Athenians (recorded by Thucydides).
The Peloponnesian Wars eventually ended in the domination of Sparta and the
destruction of Athens, so Gradus is more or less being equated with the end
of classical civilization.


Tanagra is also a site where archeologists discovered terracotta figurines
dating from 330-200 BCE (recalling the cracked krater near the headless
statue of Mercury in the tunnel under the Onhava palace).


And finally in mythology Tanagra was the daughter of Aeolus and Enarete,
written of by Korinna, who married Poemander (another name worth
investigation qua PF) who named his city after her. Later in life, Tanagra
was nicknamed Graea (shades of Gradus?).


Graea may have formed some source material for Shakespeare's MacBeth: they
were three withered old crones who shared one eye and one tooth between
them, extorted by Perseus for information (he took their eye). The word
Graea shares the root for "old man" and "old woman", so they may have
personified old age.


p. 231

Has some similarity to garðr. There must be more in this word though...?

p. 231
"'Lenin/grad/ /us/ed to be Petrograd?' 'A pri/g/ /rad/ (obs. past tense of
read) /us/?'"

Movement of time and change embodied again by Gradus as associated with
Leningrad / Petrograd. "prig rad us" has a similarity to "prigorod," a
Russian suburb, which is derived from "grad" for city from which the word
"gorod" has evolved. In the suburbs of St. Petersburg (aka Petrograd,
Leningrad) is the Vyra estate, once the summer home of the Nabokov family.

p. 232
"his eyesight was not too good"

Again, Gradus as a bat.

p. 232
"Oh my sweet Boscobel!"

Charles II of England's departure point into exile.

p. 232
"the maddening intimations, and the star that no party member can ever

Wordsworth's Intimations Ode again.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.


p. 233
"I am thinking of yet another Charles, another long dark man above two yards

Charles II of England.

p. 234
"Edsel Ford"

The name of Henry Ford's son after whom the famously failed automobile is
named. They were in production around the time Shade writes his poem and
Kinbote his commentary.


p. 235
"Now it is quieter" etc

Kinbote is completely alone now as his work nears completion.

p. 235
"two tongues"

Aside from Zemblan, English/American is the only non-Slavic language.
"American and European" would be VN himself.

Jasper Fidget

Date: 03 Nov 2003 12:18:38 -0500
From: Paul Mackin <paul.mackin@verizon.net>
Subject: Re: NPPF some notes pp 224-235 (2)

On Mon, 2003-11-03 at 09:29, Jasper Fidget wrote:
> p. 231
> "see note to line 664"
> Whether this is a typo or if there's some deeper meaning, there is no note
> to line 664; the Goethe reference is in the note to line 662.

K didn't necessarily do things in order.
Maybe when he got around to annotating line 584 he decided it might be
nice to direct our attention to line 664 ("Es ist der Vater mit seinem
Kind" rendered by Shade into English) which he had already annotated in
a note referred to as 662 and was too lazy to go back and relabel


Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 21:27:43 -0600
From: "Tim Strzechowski" <dedalus204@comcast.net>
Subject: VLVL2 (9): YakMaf and the Noir Style

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132.6 "[Wayvone'd] heard about her in fact years before on the YakMaf =
grapevine" Yakuza/Mafia (according to "Babies of Wackiness website)

Unrelated to YakMaf, but pertaining to the same paragraph:

"So he'd driven across the Mojave all night one night to see her in =
action. From a dank cement arena her hair had blazed at him like the =
halo of an angel of mischief. In the Rolodex of Ralph's memory, young =
DL would be flagged that brightly. He was actually then to follow her =
for a time, meet to meet through the South and West, along a circuit of =
grim, early ex-Nam faces, motels always miles from the venue and down =
the wrong freeway, shoptalk, drinking, possession of weapons, T-shirts =
featuring skulls, snakes, and dangerous transportation [...]"

This paragraph has a certain "noir" style to it, almost as if it had =
been ripped from the pages of Raymond Chandler.



I recall reading Lolita for the first time many years ago and being =
struck by the ways in which Nabokov incorporated mini-parodies of =
various styles into Humbert Humbert's narrative. Passages throughout =
the novel functioned as parodies of detective fiction, erotic fiction, =
travelogues, spaghetti westerns, etc. I never really noticed such =
literary parodies in Pynchon's work before; if anything, the scenes that =
always struck me had more of a film style parodic quality -- like both =
the Busby Berkley mice scene or the hot-air balloon pie throwing scene =
in GR. Nevertheless, I wonder if this is a brief glimpse at noir =
fiction and, as such, owes something to a Nabokovian influence.