Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005276, Tue, 4 Jul 2000 08:50:23 -0700

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

Here is Pope's foreword to a poem I read mainly because I thought there
was an allusion to it in Dickens' Bleak House(drjhaan on the forum
mentioned that it was remarkable that Frost and Zembla occured in one
line of Pope) in clarification of what relation Pope's poem has to

The Hint of the following Piece was taken from Chaucer's House of Fame.
The Design is in a manner entirely alter'd, the Descriptions and most of
the particular thoughts my own.: Yet I could not suffer it to be printed
without this Acknowledgement, or think a Concealment of this Nature the
less unfair for being common. The Reader who would compare this with
Chaucer, may begin with his Third Book of Fame, there being nothing in the
Two first books that answers to their Title .

On Mon, 3 Jul 2000, Galya Diment wrote:

> From: ken tapscott <kentapscott@hotmail.com>
> Re Nabokov and Pope: there is a short poem of Pope's which purports to be a
> "translation" of a poem of Chaucer's, called "The Temple of Fame" or
> something similar to that (like Professor Kinbote and his favorite version
> of _Timon of Athens_, I don't have the book here with me at the moment) -
> the poem is about 30 lines long, a fragment I believe, and it describes a
> frozen palace in the very north of the world, in a place called Zembla or
> Nova Zembla, or perhaps Pope (or Chaucer) indicates that the Temple is even
> farther north than Zembla (again, I'm not certain about this). As I remember
> Boyd's biography, I don't recall that he notes this poem of Pope's as a
> source or allusion for Nabokov, nor do I remember having seen it referred to
> elsewhere in connection with Nabokov and _Pale Fire_. The poem is, or used
> to be, in the paperback, edition of the Twickenham Pope, which I used in a
> college class. Its connection to _Pale Fire_ seems particularly relevant
> because it describes in detail the way that light glints from the icy
> surfaces of the palace of Fame, just as the renown of literary work reflects
> back on its authors (it's difficult to imagine Pope taking care to preserve
> the renown of Chaucer, as far as I'm concerned). Nabokov's Zembla,
> similarly, is a kingdom of glass, glassworks, mirrors, and reflected images.
> I have never bothered to try locating the original of the poem in Chaucer's
> works. Beyond that, I don't recall that Pope's short poem had any
> eye-opening revelations for the reader in search of solutions to Nabokov's
> puzzling _Pale Fire_, but Nabokov must have been aware of Pope's short
> piece.
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"He saw the light....And then turned it off."
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