Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005524, Mon, 9 Oct 2000 11:49:25 -0700

Craig Raine & VN
EDITOR's NOTE (see end)

Intrigued by a subscriber's remarks, I picked up a copy of British poet's
_History: the Home Movie_( a novel in verse) [Doubleday, 1994, pa]

As the bio info below shows, Raine married into the Pasternak family that
had fled to England. The poem-novel traces in parallel episodes from Raine's
family history and that of his wife's throughout the tumultuous XXth
century. It is (literally) an epic performance. In addition to the often
striking metaphors and language play, the poem makes extensive use of the
Nabokovian alphabetic icon motif, i.e., where the physical shape of an
alphabetic symbol is used as a picture of some aspect of the scene
described. The poem opens, for example, with a description of the senior
Pasternak (Boris' father, the portraitist Leonid P.) The first line in
"Pince-nez like the letter g".The epic's final line "And the sign for a
wheel chair / is exactly like an ampersand. / An ampersand. An ampersand."
Reader's of VN's _Invitation to a Beheading_, esp, the Russian original
will recall VN systematic exploitation of the device. (My essay on the
subject is reprinted in the recent Julian Connolly collection of essay on

There is no mention of Nabokovs in Raine's_History_, he provides an
Introduction to the new Penguin edition of _Laughter in the Dark_.
Bio Notes on Raine:

Born in 1945 in County Durham located in the North of England Father Norman
was an ameture Boxer
Raine’s wife was Ann Pasternak Slater
Graduated from Oxford, after graduation he was appointed a lecturer From
1981 to1991 Raine was a poetry editor for the English publisher Faber
and Faber, when he left , Raine went back to Oxford to teach Much of his
work is designed to help the reader to see the world from a fresh point of
Established a reputation for his dashing way with metaphors.
Raine's Penguin _Laughter_ intro is, I imagine, limited to the UK editions
not sold in the U.S. If any UK subscriber could send me a xerox of Raine's
Intro, I would be most grateful.
Don Johnson, EDITOR