Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005256, Sun, 2 Jul 2000 08:02:12 -0700

Nabokov and Pope (fwd)
From: Kiran Krishna <kiran@Physics.usyd.edu.au>

On reading Boyd's marvellous book, here are some additional thoughts, I
have had.

Zembla also occurs in Pope's The Temple of Fame in these lines. I base my
case on these lines:

The Rock's high Summit, in the Temple's Shade,
Nor Heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
There names inscrib'd unnumber'd Ages past
From Time's first Birth, with Time it self shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to Decays,
So Zembla's Rocks (the beauteous Work of Frost)
Rise white in Air, and glitter o'er the Coast;
Pale Suns, unfelt, at distances roll away,
And on th' impassive Ice the Lightnings play:
Eternal Snows the growing Mass supply,
Till the bright Mountains prop th' incumbent Sky

These also seem relevant here(Lines 69 and 70):

Here fabled Chiefs in darker ages born,
Or Worthys old, whom Arms or Arts adorn

I have always maintained that there is at least some connection
between Pope's greatest poem and Pale Fire. Here are a few supporting
lines from The Dunciad(I am probably stretching it):

Here to her Chosen all her works she shews;
Prose swell'd to verse, verse loit'ring into prose:
How random thoughts now meaning chance to find,
Now leave all memory of sense behind:
How Prologues into Prefaces decay,
And these to Notes are fritter'd quite away:
How Index-learning turns no student pale,
Yet holds the eel of science by the tail:

(Book 1, lines 274-280)

Here gay Description Aegypt glads with show'rs,
Or gives to Zembla fruits, to Barca flow'rs;

(Book 1, lines 73-74)

Another thought: Pope translated Homer and many others and wrote
a number of paraphrases. Mistranslation is a recurring theme in
Nabokov's later works, and Pope's rhymed translations wouldn't have been greatly
to his taste any more than they were to Coleridge's. And when we
go to the translations and paraphrases, (There surely must be more here,
since I haven't seen most of Pope's other translations) we find:

Imitation of Martial, Book 10, Epigram 3

At length my Friend (while Time, with still career,
Wafts on his gentle wing his eightieth year)
Sees his past days safe out of fortune's pow'r,
Nor dreads approaching fate's uncertain hour;
Reviews his life, and in the strict curvey
Finds not one moment he cou'd wish away,
Pleas'd with the series of each happy day.
Such, such a man extends his life's short space,
And from the goal again renews the race;
For he lives twice, who can at once employ
The present well, and ev'n the past enjoy.