Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



A further example of intratextuality (that is, within Nabokov's writings):

"You'll be happy to know, Dr. Kinbote, that Professor So-and-so [...] has consented to act as our advisor in editing the stuff."
Now, 'happy' is something extremely subjective. One of our sillier Zemblan proverbs says:
the lost glove is happy. Promptly I refastened the catch of my briefcase and betook myself to another publisher.
-- Pale Fire, Foreword

[...] There was lovely, black-haired, aquamarine-eyed Miss Norcott, who lost a white kid glove at Nice or Beaulieu, where I vainly looked for it on the shingly beach among the colored pebbles and the glaucous lumps of sea-changed bottle glass. Lovely Miss Norcott was asked to leave at once, one night in Abbazia. She embraced me in the morning twilight of the nursery, pale-mackintoshed and weeping like a Babylonian willow, and that day I remained inconsolable ...
-- Speak Memory, 4.4

This subchapter of SM also gives correlation between Charles II/Kinbote's tutors (Beauchamp and Campbell) and those that succeeded VN's governesses, Burness and Cummings; even their successor, Dobuzhinski, continues that alphabetic scheme that threads through PF (ably recounted by Boyd, A-Z), starting with the Goldsworth girls Alphina, Betty, Candida and Dee, with King Alfin and Queen Blenda. Happily, 'Abbazia' also contains that movement, and a seed (well, fertilizer) for another line of enquiry, which will sprout in a subsequent post. But, while on the subject of the extremely subjective, I'll note that Dobuzhinski in SM4.5 is borrowed for the central chapter in Pnin (Victor's drawing master Lake). Yet this borrowing is commented upon: "... it was as if life had impinged upon my creative rights by wriggling on beyond the subjective limits so elegantly and economically set by childhood memories that I thought I had signed and sealed." These cross-references draws SM into the same tight matrix that PF, Pnin, Lolita & (to some extent) Ada occupy. (Such intratextuality is later self-parodied in 'Other works by the narrator' frontispiece in place of preface to Look at the Harlequins!.)

Also, SM4.4 ends with a limerick that doesn't:
... Usually at the end of the lesson a certain limerick was asked for and granted, the point of the performance being that the word "screamed" in it was to be involuntarily enacted by oneself every time Mr. Burness gave a formidable squeeze to the hand he held in his beefy paw as he recited the lines:
The was a young lady from Russia
Who (squeeze) whenever you'd crush her.
She (squeeze) and she (squeeze) ...
by which time the pain would have become so excruciating that we never got any farther.

For all his appreciation of nonsense versifiers, VN seems to have done little of it himself, and not in limerick, double dactyl, or other such forms; even in his correspondence with Edmund Wilson, who was an aficianado of such (even attempting a Russian clerihew), the closest Nabokov got was in '49:
Do you still work upon such sets
as for example "step" and "pets"
as "Nazitrap" and "partizan"
"red wop" and "powder," "nab" and "ban"?

And despite seeming resistance to being incorporated into light verse forms, the challenge has been answered (the glove retrieved). So, I'll second this:

A penchant for formal inversion
(And for consonne d'appui
If it doesn't sound screwy)
Afforded Nabokov diversion
Though pedants pronounced it perversion.


Post a Comment

<< Home