Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027088, Fri, 1 Jul 2016 21:38:21 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Two substantive entries in the Index of Pale Fire
- Query

Jansy Mello: Thank you for the reply.* It's always fun to retake familiar lines and find them strange again. Indeed, why substitute a window's "the false azure" for the suggested "feigned remoteness"? Or why aresn't CK's commentaries to these lines included under "Windows" in his Index?**

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By the false azure in the windowpane (1-2)

(1-2; 5-6)

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By feigned remoteness in the windowpane. (131-32)

And, as concerns John Shade now:

And from the inside, too, I’d duplicate

Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate: (5-6)

Thanks to your prompting I remembered that the poem's opening lines start describing an adventure that has taken place in the outside, perhaps in a summery garden - but that the poet soon moves to "the inside" of a house where he'll again ("too") "duplicate" himself, thanks to the opacity engendered by a winter night! (later on, the wintery reflections of both landscapes, inside and outside, will be harmoniously blended).


*Bob Fagen: slain waxwing's feigned reflection in windowpane?
reply to JM's:Has anyone already worked over why "windows" were mentioned in PF's Index and not, for example, mirror or glass? And to what kind of "window" they refer?

**Charles Kinbote does make a comment related to the change from "false azure" to "feigned remoteness" in his note to lines 131-32: "The exquisite melody of the two lines opening the poem is picked up here. The repetition of that long-drawn note is saved from monotony by the subtle variation in line 132 where the assonance between its second word and the rhyme gives the ear a kind of languorous pleasure as would the echo of some half-remembered sorrowful song whose strain is more meaningful than its words. Today, when the "feigned remoteness" has indeed performed its dreadful duty, and the poem we have is the only "shadow" that remains, we cannot help reading into these lines something more than mirrorplay and mirage shimmer. We feel doom, in the image of Gradus, eating away the miles and miles of "feigned remoteness" between him and poor Shade. He, too, is to meet, in his urgent and blind flight, a reflection that will shatter him." Is Gradus also being compared to the slain waxwing now shattered by a reflection?
Is it the Author's face, no longer to be searched "in a glass, darkly" (CK, fwd: "None can say how long John Shade planned his poem to be, but it is not improbable that what he left represents only a small fraction of the composition he saw in a glass, darkly.")

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