One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Pale Fire": Diogenes the Cynic & an Anti-Soviet Jab

Nabokov was a Cynic (a good thing IMO)--in the sense that he shunned group affiliations and was never shy about questioning accepted beliefs.

Though it's always dangerous to equate author and author's creation, certainly parts of Emma are Flaubert and parts of Shade and Kinbote are Nabokov. Connecting all the dots of course is impossible.

Here's Kinbote on a good Zemblan Christian:

In fact, a good Zemblan Christian is taught that true faith is not there to supply pictures or maps, but that it should quietly content itself with a warm haze of pleasurable anticipation.
Here's Shade on the afterlife:
SHADE: Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.
And here's Kinbote again (only a fraction of the whole foray), gently pushing against the idea of suicide as sin:
The ideal drop is from an aircraft, your muscles relaxed, your pilot puzzled, your packed parachute shuffled off, cast off, shrugged off--shootka (little chute)! Down you go, but all the while you feel suspended and buoyed as you somersault in slow motion like a somnolent tumbler pigeon, and sprawl supine on the eiderdown of the air, or lazily turn to embrace your pillow, enjoying every last instant of soft, deep, death-padded life, with the earth's green seesaw now above, now below, and the voluptuous crucifixion, as you stretch yourself in the growing rush, in the nearing swish, and then your loved body's obliteration in the Lap of the Lord. If I were a poet I would certainly make an ode to the sweet urge to close one's eyes and surrender utterly unto the perfect safety of wooed death.

***

Hard to say exactly where the country of Zembla is, but my guess is that it's no more than a stone's throw away from Russia.  Here's Kinbote = Nabokov (this connection is quite certain) taking a swipe at the Soviet regime:
Ideas in modern Russia are machine-cut blocks coming in solid colors; the nuance is outlawed, the interval walled up, the curve grossly stepped.

Diogenes by John William Waterhouse

Diogenes in his tub Pictures, Images and Photos

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