Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022171, Mon, 14 Nov 2011 16:43:37 -0200

Double Darkness in Pale Fire and in Speak,Memory.

While I was drawing parallels between Borges's and Nabokov's "Word," Nina Kressova's doctoral thesis came to my mind,* together with some of Marina Grishakova's articles**. Nina Kressova's article deals with several affinities between Nabokov and Borges, in relation to their central themes and interpretations. She considers that, from the imagetic point of view, both writers have elected mirrors, labyrinths, blindness and chess, whereas their recurrent themes are time, memory and reality. She notes that both were familiar with the British culture and language since early childhood, at a time when their favorite authors were: Wells, Doyle, Stevenson. Later both admired Shakespeare, Joyce and Kafka, professed interest in the philosophy of Henri Bergson and were influenced by William James. As Nina Kressova understands it, Borges and Nabokov believe that every moment and phenomenon is unique but they doubt "reality", "time" and a uniform single "I" (instead of "serial I(s)." However, while Borges orients his views to search for universals and platonic archetypes, Nabokov investigates nature with the tools of a scientist, the energy of a sportsman and the sensibility of an artist.

Today I'll return to chronophobia's double darkness and a rocking cradle,# to look at how (and IF !) Nabokov has influenced Shade's philsophical spurts in "Pale Fire", such as those we find on lines 122-124 "Outstare the stars. Infinite foretime and/ Infinite aftertime: above your head/ They close like giant wings, and you are dead." These verses seem to be closer in spirit to what Borges, in his personal anthology, chose to quote as an epigraph to "A New Refutation of Time"(Grove Press, p.44-64.).than to the twin abysses in "Speak, Memory".
Daniel von Czepko's words in the epigraph: "Vor mir keine Zeit, nach mir wird keine seyn./ Mit mir gebiert sie sich, mit mir geht sie auch ein." Sexcenta Monidisticha Sapientum, III,11, 1655. ( "There was no time before I was, and after me it will not be/ In me alone it is born, and with me it will cease.", wikipedia).

Czepko's disciple, Angelus Silesius, enlarges these verses in the "Cherubinischer Wandersmann" I, 189:: "Der Mensch der macht die Zeit/ Du selber machst die Zeit: das Uhrwerk sind die sinnen/ Hemstu die Unruh nur / so ist die Zeit von hinnen" ( Man engenders Time/You yourself counts it in the clock of your senses/ When you inhibit your restlessness/ Time disappears.) although the verses that were quoted by Borges from "The Cherubinic Wanderer" are from canticle 263 (1675)"Freund, es ist au genug. Im Fall du mehr willst lesen,/ So geh und verde selbst die Schrift und selbst das Wesen."( in another lame translation: "My friend, that's enough. Should you desire to read further, you must become text and being yourself," although this is an idea that Nabokov also courted at times, through Kinbote (particularly in his last comments), and Van Veen in "Ada." Cf. also The quest for God in the work of Borges : books.google.com.br/books?isbn=1847060536... Annette U. Flynn. .

# - "The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour.)." (Ch.1 -"Speak, Memory.")

* - "BAJO EL SIGNO DE PROTEO - ESTUDIO COMPARADO DE TEMAS Y MOTIVOS EN LAS OBRAS DE J. L. BORGES Y V. NABOKOV "(Under the sign of Proteus - a comparative study of themes and motives in the works of J.L.Borges and V. Nabokov).

** URL: http://www.kriso.ee/cgi-bin/shop/9949113067.html The Models of Space, Time and Vision in V. Nabokov's Fiction: Narrative Strategies and Cultural Frames

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