Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027082, Wed, 29 Jun 2016 22:52:54 -0300

Pushkin's "The Sonnet" and Camoes

A.Sklyarenko: Pushkin’s Sonet (“The Sonnet,” 1830) is closely
modeled on Wordsworth’s Sonnet ...Pushkin mentions seven famous sonneteers:
Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare (“the author of Macbeth”), Camoes, Wordsworth,
Mickiewicz (“the bard of Lithuania”) and Delvig.

Jansy Mello: Alexey, do you happen to know in what language did Pushkin
read sonnets by Camões? Sir Richard Burton's biography of the Portuguese
poet and his translation of "The Lusiads" to the English was only published
in 1880. There must have been some other translations, sonnets included and
probably in French...

Edmund Wilson once wrote that: "Mr. Nabokov seems really to have done his
best to read everything that Pushkin could possibly have read, and has shown
that he took over from poetry and fiction a good many current phrases." It
would be interesting to know if V.Nabokov had ever read anything by Camões
(who wrote about the feats of Vasco da Gama in his famous epic).

E.Wilson added that Nabokov "underrates Pushkin’s knowledge of English and
quite disregards the evidence. There is a tradition—I have not been able to
trace it to its origin—that Pushkin, in the early Twenties, began to read
Byron with the young Raevskys, who had an English governess. Mr. Nabokov
scoffs at this, but it seems extremely plausible. It was at this time that
Pushkin began to write his Byronic tales, The Prisoner of the Caucasus
andThe Fountain of Bakhchisara. and he could hardly have given them this
form if he had not known something of them in the original. And though
Nabokov finds the rhyme pattern of the stanza of Onegin occasionally
embedded in La Fontaine’s Contes, it would hardly have been possible for
Pushkin to have arrived at this stanza—though it is, of course, not
identical with Byron’s—if he had not had some firsthand acquaintance with
Don Juan. He could certainly not have got this, as Mr. Nabokov seems to
suppose, entirely from Pichot’s French prose translation. Nabokov himself
notes that Pushkin had English books in his library, but asserts that he
could not read them. Of the most important evidence he says nothing at all."
abokov/ )

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