NABOKV-L post 0005331, Mon, 10 Jul 2000 20:46:28 -0700

Ghosts and reflections (fwd)
*** VN, whose colleague M.H. Abrams was at Cornell, was most likely
familiar with _The Mirror and the Lamp_ which came out in 1953. At that
point, still fairly early in his academic career at Cornell, VN appeared
to take interest in the publications of his fellow Division of Literature
profs, especially those who like Abrams, Arthur Mizener, and David
Daiches were among the leading literary scholars of the period. GD***

From: Arthur Glass <>

I am currently reading Richard Holmes Coleridge: Darker Reflections, the
second volume of his biography of STC. In the chapter that deals with
Coleridge's editing of the periodical The Friend, Holmes discusses STC's
biographical essay on Martin Luther, and particularly Luther's visions of
the Devil. Coleridge, who also saw ghosts or phantasms, analogizes the
Imagination's projection onto the real world of its inner images--like
Luther's Devil-- to the reflection of a room in a window at dusk, when the
items in the room appear to be superimposed on the perceived images of the
world 'ouside' [p. 168]. That sort of perception will strike a familiar
chord with any reader of Pale Fire.

This does not mean that VN was 'influenced' by Coleridge's account of
Luther's visions, in the unlikely event he had ever read it. The illusion
created by a semi-opaque window is a convention of Romantic psychology.
Holmes adverts to M.H. Abrams classic study of Romantic psychologial theory,
The Mirror and the Lamp. The mind, the chief faculty of which is
Imagination, is a mirror in which the outside world is received and
reflected, but it is also a 'lamp,' actively radiating its light onto the
world. The items in the lamp-lit room projected onto the images of the world
outside a darkening window is a perfect metaphor of the fusion of these two
functions of mind: the receptive and the creative.