Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022148, Tue, 8 Nov 2011 20:52:43 -0500

Nabokov and Edward de Vere (Re: [SIGHTING] "Anonymous" and
authorial controversies/ Van Veen and "Perfect Sense")
Dear Mr. Boyd (and other Stratfordian Nabokophiles):

While I'm no fan of Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous" (stunning sets aside,
artistically it's wretched, and I wince to hear him discuss the
Oxfordian cause), his film is correct in its supposition that "William
Shakespeare" was a pen name used by Edward de Vere.

I can't express how depressing it is to me that the Stratfordian myth
has blinded eyes as keen as yours, and many others' down the
centuries--if not the eyes of Henry and William James, Emerson, Whitman,
Twain, Freud, and other perceptive doubters in the myth, listed here:

And not Nabokov's nose either, judging by his 1924 poem "Shakespeare"
(below). Maybe he modified his views later in life, but I can't see why
he would. I think he knew a fellow noble when he smelled one. (I'm very
curious to know if he ever said anything specifically about
Shakespeare's identity to his son, who translated the poem and must have
some opinion of it--and possibly his father's later view of it.)

For scholarship's sake, and for your own pleasure, I positively beg you
to take a close, unbiased look at the evidence for de Vere's authorship,
which though circumstantial is overwhelming. Please read Mark Anderson's
"Shakespeare by Another Name", Richard Paul Roe's new 300-page, lavishly
illustrated "The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" (which documents in minute
detail Shakespeare's intimate knowledge of a country that de Vere lived
and traveled widely in) and--to address your statement that many of the
plays were written after de Vere's death in 1604--the following links:

Nabokov's poem:


Amid grandees of times Elizabethan
you shimmered too, you followed sumptuous custom;
the circle of ruff, the silv'ry satin that
encased your thigh, the wedgelike beard--in all of this
you were like other men... Thus was enfolded
your godlike thunder in a succinct cape.

Haughty, aloof from theatre's alarums,
you easily, regretlessly relinquished
the laurels twinning into a dry wreath,
concealing for all time your monstrous genius
beneath a mask; and yet, your phantasm's echoes
still vibrate for us; your Venetian Moor,
his anguish; Falstaff's visage, like an udder
with pasted-on mustache; the raging Lear...
You are among us, you're alive; your name, though,
your image, too - deceiving, thus, the world
you have submerged in your beloved Lethe.
It's true, of course, a usurer had grown
accustomed, for a sum, to sign your work
(that Shakespeare--Will--who played the Ghost in Hamlet,
who lives in pubs, and died before he could
digest in full his portion of a boar's head)...

The frigate breathed, your country you were leaving,
To Italy you went. A female voice
called singsong through the iron's pattern
called to her balcony the tall inglesse,
grown languid from the lemon-tinted moon
and Verona's streets. My inclination
is to imagine, possibly, the droll
and kind creator of Don Quixote
exchanging with you a few casual words
while waiting for fresh horses--and the evening
was surely blue. The well behind the tavern
contained a pail's pure tinkling sound... Reply
whom did you love? Reveal yourself - whose memoirs
refer to you in passing? Look what numbers
of lowly, worthless souls have left their trace,
what countless names Brantome has for the asking!
Reveal yourself, god of iambic thunder,
you hundred-mouthed, unthinkably great bard!

No! At the destined hour, when you felt banished
by God from your existence, you recalled
those secret manuscripts, fully aware
that your supremacy would rest unblemished
by public rumor's unashamed brand,
that ever, midst the shifting dust of ages,
faceless you'd stay, like immortality
itself--then vanished in the distance, smiling.

Copyright 1979 Vladimir Nabokov Estate
English version copyright 1988 Dmitri Nabokov
this poem? Specifically the lines "It's true, of course, a usurer had
grown/accustomed, for a sum, to sign your work/(that
Shakespeare--Will--who played the Ghost in Hamlet,/who lives in pubs,
and died before he could/digest in full his portion of a boar's
head)..." and "How many names Brantome has for the asking!" (Brantome
being Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, who according to
Wikipedia "spent his last years in writing his Memoirs of the
illustrious men and women whom he had known.")

More on Nabokov's poem (written 4 years after the Oxford theory was put
forward) here:

A couple comments:

1) Nabokov wrote this in 1924, four years after the publication of J.T.
Looney's "Shakespeare Identified." I'd guess he hadn't read it, and
maybe never did, or he would have been convinced. With his sense of
humor he would also probably have gotten a kick out of the fact that a
man with what one Stratfordian has wittily called "the unimprovable name
of John Thomas Looney" solved the greatest literary hoax in history.

2) De Vere didn't "regretlessly relinguish" his laurels or vanish "in
the distance, smiling." He parted his name from his works with the
utmost anguish. The very personal Sonnets (clearly written by an older,
lamed man whose fortunes had fallen--they are certainly not exercises,
and their secret may have been revealed in Hank Whittemore's "The
Monument") reveal his intense sorrow that "I once gone, to all the world
must die."

Best regards,


PS In glancing through your fascinating "Stalking Nabokov," I happened
to notice a passage about Shakespeare's supposed ignorance that Bohemia
was landlocked, and it brought to mind Mark Anderson's note, in mapping
de Vere's travels, that "Bohemia during its most prosperous years had
two seacoasts" and "the first patch of foreign coastline Edward de Vere
encountered on his 1575 trip down the Adriatic Sea out of Venice was
land ruled by the then-King of Bohemia."

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