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errata tat tat

Res ipsa loquitur:

Pale Fire, Kinbote, C149 (Charles II, escaping through Zembla, atop a mountain pass): ... a tender haze enveloped more distant ridges which led to one another in an endless array, through every grade of soft evanescence.
Kinbote, C894: [Shade:] "Kings do not die--they only disappear, eh, Charles?"
[... farther on, on Pnin ...] Shade: "Sir, we all find it difficult to attack that name" [laughing].
Professor Hurley: "Think of the French word for 'tire': punoo."
Shade: Why, sir, I am afraid you have only punctured the difficulty" [laughing uproariously]
"Flatman," quipped I. [...]

DeQuincey's Confessions: The reader may choose to think of him as possibly no more than a sublunary druggist; it may be so, but my faith is better: I believe him to have evanesced, or evaporated. So unwillingly would I connect any mortal remembrances with that hour, and place, and creature, that first brought me acquainted with the celestial drug.
DeQuincey's note: Evanesced. - this way of going off the stage of life appears to have been well known in the 17th century, but at that time to have been considered a peculiar privilege of blood-royal, and by no means to be allowed to druggists. For about the year 1686, a poet of rather ominous name (and who, by the bye, did ample justice to his name), viz., Mr. Flat-man, in speaking of the death of Charles II expresses his surprise that any prince should commit so absurd an act as dying; because, says he,
"Kings should disdain to die, and only disappear."
They should abscond, that is, into the other world.
Barry Milligan's note: Misquoted from 'On the Much Lamented Death of Our Late Sovereign Lord King Charles II, of Blessed Memory, a Pindaresque Ode' by Thomas Flatman (1637-88), 21-5: "But Princes (like the wondrous Enoch) should be free/From Death's Unbounded Tyranny,/And when their Godlike Race is run,/And nothing glorious left undone,/Never submit to Fate, but only disappear."

Chateaubriand's René: One day, as I was walking in a large city, I passed through a secluded and deserted courtyard behind a palace. There I noticed a statue pointing to a spot made famous by a certain sacrifice. I was struck by the stillness of the surroundings; only the wind moaned weakly around the tragic marble. Workmen were lying about indifferently at the foot of the statue or whistled as they hewed out stones. I asked them what the monument meant; some knew little indeed, while the others were totally oblivious of the catastrophe it commemorated. Nothing could indicate so vividly the true import of human events and the vanity of our existence. What has become of those figures whose fame was so widespread? Time has taken a step and the face of the earth has been made over.
Chateaubriand's note: At London, behind Whitehall, the statue of Charles II.
Irving Putter's note: He was apparently deeply affected by this statue, and has written about it elsewhere, adding that Charles II is pointing to the spot where his father Charles I was executed. In reality, it was a bronze statue of James II, the brother of Charles II.

My note: Restoration comedy, to be sure. But I've fumbled around this issue of intentional error in Nabokov, of which L98 ("Red Sox beat Yanks 5-4/On Chapman's Homer") seems exemplary: Ben Chapman (better known as a Yank, and for leading league in steals) was not on the Sox in any 5-4 game ('37 instance preceded his arrival), but, as NYT bookchatter 'whiskeypriest' put it, "One thinks of Big Ben as hitting a two run blast to beat the Yanks, in the bottom of the ninth, following a two-out single, and wonders, who was On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer."
And Kinbote's commentary on this [C98]: "A reference to the title of Keats' famous sonnet (often quoted in America) which, owing to a printer's absent-mindedness, has been drolly transposed, from some other article, into the account of a sports event. For other vivid misprints see note to line 802."
-- which is really in C803 ('misprint', giving an instance of 'paradiorthosis', or incorrect correction; TSEliot adapted the term to proverb-modifiers). C802 is on 'mountain', which Kinbote ties back to C149. Full circle, glorious revolution.

Alexander Zholkovsky provides more memorable monkeyshines of this sort.


Blogger nnyhav said...

Today I stumbled on another false path or misdirected allusion with regard to Kinbote's note to L502 (in which VN catches Dr. Johnson pocketpicking another's wit): "The grand potato: An execrable pun, ..."

"He who would make a pun would pick a pocket." Dr. Johnson is generally credited with this silly dictum (1709-1784), but Dennis had said before to Purcell, “Any man who would make such an execrable pun would not scruple to pick my pocket” (1657–1734). (Sir W. H. Pyne: Wine and Walnuts, vol. ii. p. 277.)
The “execrable pun” was this: Purcell rang the bell for the drawer or waiter, but no one answered it. Purcell, tapping the table, asked Dennis “why the table was like the tavern?” Ans. “Because there is no drawer in it.”
-- E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897.
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.

The NYTimes' 22 Mar 1885 report (crediting Notes & Queries, referring to an 18 Nov 1722 epistle to Sir Richard Steele), is now available online (clickthru to pdf)

27/2/08 22:58  

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