Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Memorial by Kinbote for Cardin: WWW

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:13 PM

A Harvard student* attempts to summarize Nabokov’s aesthetics —

“Take ‘Pale Fire,’ his 1962 poem-as-novel
bursting with butterfly as theme:

‘I can do what only a true artist can do —
pounce upon the forgotten butterfly of revelation …
see the web of the world,
and the warp and the weft of that web.’ “

“True artist” here refers to Kinbote, not Nabokov.

* Tessa K.J. Haining, Harvard Crimson  Contributing Opinion Writer.
Tessa K.J. Haining ’23 lives in Adams House. Her column appears on
alternate Fridays. December 11, 2020.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:13 AM
From “Nabokov’s Crosswords of Composition,” by
Rebecca Freeh-Maciorowski, a paper presented at NEMLA, dated 15 October 2014 —

“In a way, Nabokov’s entire oeuvre might be built upon one all-encompassing ‘crossword,’ a possibility raised by W.W. Rowe when he writes ‘Words and phrases seem faintly but undeniably to catch many others in the prism of their associations and connotations, almost as if Nabokov’s entire oeuvre were planned from the very start’ (viii). Turning to Pale Fire , the work of Simon Rowberry provides evidence of a whole network of ‘themed entries’ within this novel, what Rowberry refers to as ‘the novel’s promiscuous intertextuality.’ Alternately, the points and coordinates that Nabokov refers to constitute the composition’s ‘checked cells.’ The checked cells are the basic mechanism of the crossword puzzle; essentially, they are the guiding force of the entire puzzle, controlling both the construction and solution. These are the cells within the crossword puzzle in which two words intersect. In Nabokov’s compositional crossword, the ‘checked cells’ are those points which combine disparate entities, places of intersection, where objects and themes converge.”

Rowe, W.W., Nabokov’s Deceptive World , New York University Press, 1971.

Rowberry, Simon, “Pale Fire  as a Hypertextual Network.” 22nd ACM Hypertext Conf., Eindhoven, Netherlands. 6-9 June 2011. Web.

The Rowberry date appears to be, specifically, 8  June 2011:

A Kinbote note — See also this  journal on 8 June 2011.

Update of 3:03 PM ET the same day —

In keeping with Kinbote’s character as an unreliable narrator . . .
Rowberry’s Eindhoven slides  indicate he spoke on 9  June 2011.

See as well the Log24 post  “Historical Fiction” from June 2011.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Analogies Between Analogies:

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:33 AM

Literary Meditation for the Feast of  SS Peter and Paul

Background McLuhan on analogy.

See a publication offering facsimiles of the original 4×6 cards
of John Shade's "Pale Fire," as Nabokov described them.

Regarding these card proportions, note that 4/6 = 333/500, approximately —
the proportions of the text box in a post from yesterday.

"Continue a search for thirty-three and three" — Katherine Neville.

These rather pointless, but vaguely poetic, analogies were suggested by

  • Yesterday morning's "The Corrections," a post
    featuring spider ballooning and a dead poet, and
  • "Blue Dream," a post of Feb. 11, 2006.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mountain, Fountain

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 AM

For the late Vladimir Nabokov, author of Pale Fire :

He took his article from a steel file:
"It's accurate. I have not changed her style.
There's one misprint–not that it matters much:
Mountain, not fountain. The majestic touch."

Click for a related Hollywood Reporter  story.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Annals of Literature

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:30 AM

(This morning's Text and Pretext, continued)

"… a reality that only my notes can provide."
    — Kinbote in Nabokov's novel Pale Fire

Click the above remarks on screws for another perspective on reality.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dog Tale

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:20 PM

"I love gazing into things. Can you imagine with me how glorious it is, for example, to see into a dog, in passing— into him… to ease oneself into the dog exactly at his center, the place out of which he exists as a dog, that place in him where God would, so to speak, have sat down for a moment when the dog was complete, in order to watch him at his first predicaments and notions and let him know with a nod that he was good, that he lacked nothing, that no better dog could be made. For a while one can endure being in the middle of the dog, but one has to be sure to jump out in time, before the world closes in around him completely, otherwise one would remain the dog within the dog and be lost to everything else."

— Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in The New York Times  in 1988


Omitting unneeded narrative details,
a madman's knight move

A novel search in memory of the late
uncrowned crown prince of Albania—

Nabokov, Pale Fire

Related narratives—

Prose Tale and The Meadow.

Oh, and happy birthday to Woody Allen (76 today)—

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." —Groucho Marx

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday School

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 AM

Apollo and the Tricksters

From The Story of N (Oct. 15, 2010)—

Roberta Smith on what she calls "endgame art"—

"Fear of form above all means fear of compression— of an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible."

Margaret Atwood on tricksters and art—

"If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo."

Here is some related material In memory of CIA officer Clare Edward Petty, who died at 90 on March 18—

A review of a sort of storyteller's MacGuffin — the 3×3 grid. This is, in Smith's terms, an "artistic focus" that appears  to be visually comprehensible but is not as simple as it seems.

The Hesse configuration can serve as more than a sort of Dan Brown MacGuffin. As a post of January 14th notes, it can (rather fancifullly) illustrate the soul—


" … I feel I understand
Existence, or at least a minute part
Of my existence, only through my art,
In terms of combinational delight…."

— Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Signs and Symbols

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:07 PM

                      " … I feel I understand
Existence, or at least a minute part
Of my existence, only through my art,
In terms of combinational delight;
And if my private universe scans right,
So does the verse of galaxies divine
Which I suspect is an iambic line.
I'm reasonably sure that we survive
And that my darling somewhere is alive…."

— Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Shade Out of Synch

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:24 PM

Review of a 1968 novel by Wilfrid Sheed, who died today—



Sheed on his boyhood in My Life as a Fan: A Memoir

"So it was back to… tinkering with my batting stance and praying that some one of my aged neighbors would miraculously rear back and give birth, like Sarah in the Bible, to a boy who would even more miraculously emerge at about my own age and not turn out to be a butterfly collector or other form of creep." (Simon & Schuster, 1993; in 2001 edition, page 84)

See also Shadow (September 23rd) —

"I was the shadow of the waxwing slain" — John Shade in Pale Fire , a novel by butterfly collector Vladimir Nabokov

—as well as Intermediate Cubism and Ironic Butterfly.


"This is called the transformation of things."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday June 11, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:10 PM
Picture This

In memory of film producer Fernando Ghia:

“Among Ghia’s solo credits as a producer is

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050611-Lamb3.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Lady Caroline Lamb,’ a 1972 period drama
written and directed by Robert Bolt.”

Today’s LA Times

Ghia died on June 1, 2005
(the date of the Dutch “No” vote).
In the spirit of Pale Fire, here is an excerpt
from a Log24 entry of that date:

The Road to Brussels

“History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pretested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims. It can illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations, yet each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable.”

 — Henry Kissinger, quoted in
     Drama of the Diagonal, Part Deux

Les livres d’histoire et la vie
racontent la même comédie….

Alain Boublil

“Along the road from Ohain to Braine-l’Alleud that hemmed in the plain of Mont-St-Jean and cut at right angles the road to Brussels, which the Emperor wished to take, he [Wellington] had placed 67,000 men and 184 cannons.” Fr. Libert, Waterloo

In researching this entry, I thought of
Wellington’s statement
in “Lady Caroline Lamb” —
These are the Scots Greys.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050601-Forever.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and found the above picture.

Related material:

Women’s History Month.

Friday, September 6, 2002

Friday September 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:11 AM

Santa’s Wit

Edmund Gwenn, actor, died on September 6, 1959.

When asked if he thought dying was tough, Gwenn reportedly said,

“Yes, it’s tough, but not as tough as doing comedy.”

This may or may not be true; if it is, Gwenn may be the true source of a quotation variously attributed to Edmund Kean, Edwin Booth, David GarrickDonald WolfitWilliam Holden, and Groucho Marx, Marcel Marceau, Noel Coward, and Oscar Wilde:  

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

A very dubious version of the Gwenn story attributes the “comedy is hard” part to Jack Lemmon:

The lesson is best illustrated in a story involving Jack Lemmon, whose best work was in comedy. He visited the British actor Edmund Gwenn, suffering in a hospital. Gwenn is said to have lifted the flap on the oxygen tent and said, ”It’s really tough to die.” And Lemmon responded, ”It’s not as tough as doing comedy.”
— Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times Week in Review, Sunday, August 25, 2002

David Bruce, an English instructor at Ohio University, supplies another version of the Gwenn story, from Movie Anecdotes, by Peter Hay. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990:

Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar playing Santa Claus in the movie Miracle on 34 Street. As he lay dying, Jack Lemmon visited him and asked if dying was dead. [sic]  Gwenn replied, “Oh, it’s hard, very hard indeed. But not as hard as doing comedy.”

Santa might appreciate the above misprint, as would Vladimir Nabokov

“Life Everlasting–based on a misprint!”
Pale Fire 

and John Donne

“And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.”
Holy Sonnets

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