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mitty
Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
whiskeypriest wrote:
lshap wrote:
Did I just stumble into the Borat chatroom?
If this forum not a success, I will be execute!

I thinnk most of us have read Pnin, and I was going on that assumotion. It is kind of hard to discuss a book when we can only go as fast as the last reader.

The reference to La Berceuse on p. 108 was interesting to me...
Quote:
Victor, in passing acknowledged it with a nod of ironic recognition.

Ironic...because his was the least maternal parent on the planet? Rolling Eyes

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mitty
Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:23 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
From what I read on a web site http://arts.guardian.co.uk/portrait/story/0,,746027,00.html
(partiallly quoted below...)

the subject was one of the few people that Van Gogh actually liked in the area and the picture was supposed to represent
Quote:
This visionary portrait seems to rock soothingly, moving towards the viewer, creating a sense of completeness and inclusion. The rope Roulin holds, to rock a baby's cradle, reaches towards the viewer, making you the loved and guarded infant. The title, Van Gogh explained, referred to both the woman who rocks the cradle and the lullaby she sings. Van Gogh obsessed about this painting while in hospital and was told that he sang a lullaby while delirious.


So Ironic would be appropriate considering Liza Wind.
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pedersencr
Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 6:47 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Magnificent painting Mitty!
And great explanation. Never knew that!
Many thanks,
Charles

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pedersencr
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:58 am Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Opening the cover of a Nabokov novel, by now, has the feeling of coming home for me. So much of his style and surroundings are recognizable -- so much of his own life that he has enshrined in each of his books. And because of that, I am always astonished that each of his stories is so completely different. There were no laurels that he rested on once he found what worked, except for his own gifted writing which found its own voice very early on. But similar motifs, too, are noticeable throughout his novels: squirrels, butterflies (of course!), triangular relationships of all sorts (and protagonists as well), and here in Pnin, right at the opening, trains. Train trips became a fondly remembered part of his childhood, as his aristocratic family travelled back and forth across Europe, with entourage, from their estate in St. Petersburg to extended vacations at places such as Biarritz. And each written scene provides a completely different creation from a portion of remembered events. One poignant factual scene, in Speak Memory, has both Nabokov and his wife, Véra, lovingly and patiently waiting as their young son Dmitri looks for a train to come into view, willing for Dmitri to himself become acquainted with the magic that Vladimir has seen and known. Another time, a key fictional plot breakthrough occurs with a hysterically comical chance acquaintanceship on a train, in The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. In Pnin, it seems that Nabokov has chosen to give Timofey the train-ride-from-Hell! And did I say Pnin? Or how much of that is Nabokov himself sitting right there in the corner, he who taught Russian literature through so many years at Wellesley and Cornell after being forced from Europe? It is always hard to tell, and fascinating to try. And so the story opens.

Charles

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mitty
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:58 am Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
Yes Charles, it is exactly that familiarity and otoh, complete difference that is so exhilarating. Some of Nabokov's books seem to be a compilation of his life. Not his life as it was, but his life as it could have been, as it might have been, say for example if he'd not met Vera when he did, or if he'd tried to return to Russia. His life turned inside out and backwards IOW.

It reminds me of an old expression "If if were a skiff"....VN takes that to heart quite seriously.
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whiskeypriest
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:30 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
mitty wrote:
whiskeypriest wrote:
lshap wrote:
Did I just stumble into the Borat chatroom?
If this forum not a success, I will be execute!

I thinnk most of us have read Pnin, and I was going on that assumotion. It is kind of hard to discuss a book when we can only go as fast as the last reader.

The reference to La Berceuse on p. 108 was interesting to me...
Quote:
Victor, in passing acknowledged it with a nod of ironic recognition.

Ironic...because his was the least maternal parent on the planet? Rolling Eyes

Except, keep in mind that Victor, like his teacher Lake and like Nabokov himself, thought van Gogh was second rate, while Picasso was sublime. Nabokov considered van Gogh poshlost.

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pedersencr
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:51 am Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
mitty wrote:
Yes Charles, it is exactly that familiarity and otoh, complete difference that is so exhilarating. Some of Nabokov's books seem to be a compilation of his life. Not his life as it was, but his life as it could have been, as it might have been, say for example if he'd not met Vera when he did, or if he'd tried to return to Russia. His life turned inside out and backwards IOW.

It reminds me of an old expression "If if were a skiff"....VN takes that to heart quite seriously.


Exhilirating is exactly the word!

The stories are fiction and they are real, both, at the same time!

A skiff sailing an ocean of memory. What an image!

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mitty
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:15 am Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
whiskeypriest wrote:
Except, keep in mind that Victor, like his teacher Lake and like Nabokov himself, thought van Gogh was second rate, while Picasso was sublime. Nabokov considered van Gogh poshlost.


Awk! Well, that explains the irony on that level for sure! Rolling Eyes
But really since Nabokov works on so many levels there is more than one explanation there.
Thanks for that Whiskey, I didn't realize VN's aversion for van Gogh. Adn I haven't finished my reread yet, I read it for the first time last February.


Last edited by mitty on Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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mitty
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:17 am Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
pedersencr wrote:
mitty wrote:
Yes Charles, it is exactly that familiarity and otoh, complete difference that is so exhilarating. Some of Nabokov's books seem to be a compilation of his life. Not his life as it was, but his life as it could have been, as it might have been, say for example if he'd not met Vera when he did, or if he'd tried to return to Russia. His life turned inside out and backwards IOW.

It reminds me of an old expression "If if were a skiff"....VN takes that to heart quite seriously.


Exhilirating is exactly the word!

The stories are fiction and they are real, both, at the same time!

A skiff sailing an ocean of memory. What an image!


I think that is why I loved Look at the Harlequins! so much, even not getting some of the allusions having not read all of Nabokov yet. I've read enough to laugh myself silly at some points. Cool
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bart
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:10 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Dec 2005 Posts: 2381 Location: Lincoln NE
As far as I've read (early chapter three), it seems like Pnin is a prepostmodern tragic figure who is defeated by reason, by his desire to put the world in logical order. This suggestion of OCD seems the basis of much of what is comic. Key passages for me, so far, are the one describing his moves from apartment to apartment in the college town, seeking his perfect place of quiet and repose and order. A man who has moved eight times in a couple years is a man who cannot adapt. A similar string is plucked when Joan shows him a New Yorker cartoon and he mistakes thought balloons for atomic bomb explosions, quibbles with the botanical error of a palmetto on such a small islet, and generally doesn't get the joke about the mermaid. Not getting the indigenous humor seems like fatal maladadptation. The squirrel metaphor is perfect and mocking, for the squirrel is the very model of adaptability. In America, he is lesser than a squirrel, and serves as the squirrel's water-bearer.

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mitty
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:14 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
Bart, Nabokov wrote Pnin first as a sort of serialization for the New Yorker.According to Brian Boyd, VN's most reliable biographer in Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years...
Quote:
But because he anticipated that Lolita might be difficult to publish, he had begun Pnin in 1953 in the hope that a series of detachable, story-length chapters might earn him an immediate income as he sold each one to the New Yorker.

So IOW, the figure that Timofey presents at first is softened and added and padded as the book continues.
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bart
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:38 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Dec 2005 Posts: 2381 Location: Lincoln NE
Thanks. Haf no dzeefeecooltsee with that approach. Perhaps Pnin later find mermaid with legs. And remove extra Russian moisture.

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bart
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:35 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Dec 2005 Posts: 2381 Location: Lincoln NE
Another quote -- a first impression of Nabakov is that he can make any small detail fascinating and somehow deeply connected with the larger world:

"....he screwed onto the side of the desk a pencil sharpener--that highly satisfying, highly philosophical implement that goes ticonderoga-ticonderoga, feeding on the yellow finish and sweet wood, and ends up in a kind of soundless spinning ethereal void as we all must."

There is something richly satisfying about prose that somehow reintroduces you to the mundane -- as if you were looking through the eyes of a poet who instantly connects the brand name of a pencil and the sound it makes as it is ground up.

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pedersencr
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:13 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
OCD ???

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pedersencr
Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Oh! OCD == Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Bart,
If so, that strikes me as a little surprising for Pnin.
I don't especially recall a repetitive urgency or necessity in his actions.
He struck me more as simply gloomy and philosophical that life was more or less against him (a 'sad sack'), but determined to keep on plugging anyway. But I'll be catching up over the terrain you have just gone over and I'll look at it with the new perspective. Perhaps 'fastidious' or 'punctilious' might come to mind as I do.
Re pre-postmodern, here is my chance to do some googling, and learning about terms I have never really understood, and finally perhaps coming to understand where Nabokov's style fits in. I am not a lit major as you can no doubt easily tell, so technical terminology slows me down considerably.
But, regarding Nabokov's capacity for close observation and the ability to transfer his observations and insights into sentences on paper, there is no doubt of his evident mastery there! There are occasions when I can almost feel his having said "OK, now I'm going to set my mind to it and describe this scene, (or this character)," because the extended and densely detailed descriptions of nature and of people that one comes across, and the images they conjure, are truly remarkable to read.
Charles

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