Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027134, Wed, 3 Aug 2016 09:40:49 -0300

[Queries] Tension films - musings on "combinational fate"

While writing about Gradus as a "transcendental tramp" I muddled a few
words. Please note that its sentence inserted between bars should have been
set down as

" - in spite of all his efforts and despite the transcendental power of
literature and the fictional world - "

There's a line in CK's commentaries to line 596 that deals with another
aspect of "Gradus," when CK considers Gradus' movements:

" What was Gradus doing that day? Nothing. Combinational fate rests on its
laurels. "

The word "combinational" is not strange to the reader, but it's not related
to "fate," or to "Gradus," but to John Shade.


Knowing Shade's combinational turn of mind and subtle sense of harmonic
balance, I cannot imagine that he intended to deform the faces of his
crystal by meddling with its predictable growth.( CK fwd)


lines 971-977:

I feel I understand

Existence, or at least a
minute part

Of my existence, only
through my art,

In terms of combinational

And if my private universe
scans right,

So does the verse of
galaxies divine

Which I suspect is an iambic line.

( J.S:PF)

3. "...our poet's special brand of combinational magic " (
lines 727-728)

So, I decided to follow C.K's steps to investigate what John Shade was doing
that day, once the assassin's steps had been synchronized with his writing:

While John Shade was composing Canto Three his poetic output didn't seem to
be in any way different from his work on the other Cantos, those in which
Gradus was actively setting out to meet him.

Why did CK make Gradus stop during fours days while JS kept moving his pen?

Line 596: Points at the puddle in his basement room
[ ] Shade composed these lines on Tuesday, July 14th. What was Gradus doing
that day? Nothing. Combinational fate rests on its laurels. We saw him last
on the late afternoon of July 10th when he returned from Lex to his hotel in
Geneva, and there we left him.
// For the next four days Gradus remained fretting in Geneva. The amusing
paradox with these men of action is that they constantly have to endure long
stretches of otiosity that they are unable to fill with anything, lacking as
they do the resources of an adventurous mind.

(from the fwd) "We possess in result a complete calendar of his work. Canto
One was begun in the small hours of July 2 and completed on July 4. He
started the next canto on his birthday and finished it on July 11. Another
week was devoted to Canto Three. Canto Four was begun on July 19, and as
already noted, the last third of its text (lines 949-999) is supplied by a
Corrected Draft."

Knowing Nabokov's "combinational turn of mind" the immobility of Gradus must
have been projectedonto J.Shade's verses. Has anyone already identified

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