NABOKV-L post 0025917, Tue, 30 Dec 2014 10:45:24 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] A passing view on VN's theories of translation...
Jansy Mello: Distractions and columns not written by Alex Beam DECEMBER 25,

ritten/tkrrXVT8kDfrAqoDY4n8CP/story.html [...(Vladimir Nabokov bored
everyone he met by insisting that “The Overcoat” — “Shinel’” in Russian, and
no, I didn’t need the dictionary for that — should be properly translated
“The Carrick.” That idea was (1) incomprehensible and (2) nonsense. Nabokov
also hated Dostoyevsky and insisted that “Notes from the Underground” should
better be called “Memoirs from a Mousehole.”) ]

Tom Whalen (to JM off list): “I thought you might enjoy knowing that in 2002
a small press, Obscure Publications, printed six chapters from my recently
published novel The Straw That Broke under the title MEMOIRS FROM A
MOUSEHOLE. I'm sorry that Alex Beam didn't mention that we have VN's
translation of the title of that Dostoyevsky novella in VN's Lectures on
Russian Literature. It's a great title and I was happy to steal it for my
chapbook. I don't know the source of Beam's comment about VN "boring
everyone he met" about his preferred translation of Gogol's "Shinel," "The
Carrick" (which also comes from Lectures on Russian Literature), and Beam's
stating VN hated Dostyoevsky is something of a half-truth, since VN admired
The Double, Dostoyevsky's most Gogolian work.
The Straw That Broke, by the way, is somewhat Nabokovian (not that anyone
has noticed), and narrated by a very smart mouse fond of language games and


Jansy Mello: Many thanks to Tom Whalen for the opportunity to learn more
about his work and activities. His choice of the word “embedding” to
describe a shared Nabokovian quality led me to explore what “to embed” means

I’m still not very sure that I understand its applications in their
extension to pre-internet literature but I have the impression that
V.Nabokov’s effusive allusions, personifications, quotes and subtle
references to art and to scientific explorations (in the “Bouvard and
Pécuchet” manner) is…how shall I put it? prophetic qua the “www” readership:
all the possible sharing and entanglements we now practice are to be found

Nevertheless VN’s main quality is still something of a mystery to me, for it
lies not in language games, narrative skills, structural qualities and even
in the fantasy worlds he created - following his description of the
particular Kafka/Gogol manner. I can read VN’s lines over and over because
they still guard a sort of unexhaustible (animistic?) novelty – and this is
how Nabokov affects me.



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