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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nabokov's "The Original of Laura" & My "FLaura"

I've had The Original of Laura in my closet for some while. Maybe even a year. I read Nabokov's Verses and Versions and reread Pale Fire first; I read a whole lot of other stuff before finally deciding to dig in and get through it. Why? Hard to say. I suppose it's because I knew it wasn't a finished product. I suppose it's because he himself wanted it to be burned (a la the book burning in Pale Fire). I suppose it's because I knew from reviews that it wasn't the Nabokov I knew and loved.

It'll be a quick read: it's more package than content. One index card per page (writing only on one side). It's terribly unfinished.

*

There's lots of reviews (mostly mixed) out there re the book and "Dmitri's Dilemma." Though I love much of Nabokov's oeuvre, and I'm sure Laura (hobbling Laura) will have some "zings," I found myself pretty much in accord with this:

http://www.mantex.co.uk/2010/01/08/the-original-of-laura/

*

I guess this will be a good place to insert my poem related to/inspired by Laura. As soon as I heard about the sketchy novel's existence, and its pending publication, I wrote this poem (I'd have to backtrack to find the article that inspired me and some of the details -- though it's been years since I wrote this poem, I'm thinking now that the after-painting below must've been dancing in my head.) The poem was never published published, so what can it hurt.



FLaura

Tenacious: you bet.  Like muskrats guarding their musk.  Dying is fun and we wanted to know the authorial order of the index cards

Swiss vault: Séance

Banner (letters inked in blue neon): DIRECTION, PLEASE   

Once the lights were off, the thirty cards in question turned a ghastly green, the table lifted, and a telegraphic clicking, issuing from and muffled by a luminous cloud above the table, clacked to no decipherable end

On auto-shuffle, the cards dealt themselves into a ménage à trois of narrative fans, pausing between hands only long enough for me to jot down scant synoptic features:

  1. Phil, an ageing writer of large note and a hatha yogi, is erasing himself from the toes up     
  2. Phil, an ageing writer of large note and a hatha yogi, is erasing himself from the head down
  3. FLaura, in an outlandish attempt to outdo Laura and Flora, playfully twitches a bared nipple while coyly gazing at her twisting sister in an oval mirror
A day later someone—apparently the Transparent Umber Umber—ethered into our e-boxes this odd little follow-up:

How fitting (or knot, ornate) that you should query me in all caps and I should answer in italics—and that a double-Dutch (double-dunce) Monkey in the Middle should play pat ball to my taps


Ecole de Fontainebleau, Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d'Estrées et de sa soeur la duchesse de Villars

Ecole de Fontainebleau, Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d'Estrées et de sa soeur la duchesse de Villars

vers 1594,
96 x 125 cm,
Musée du Louvre, Paris

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