Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Russians

I stole this quote from Jeremy Denk. It's by Vladimir...I'm drawing a blank, here, he wrote "Pale Fire", a delightfully whacko novel......Nabokov!

In a sense, we all are crashing to our death from the top story of our birth to the flat stones of the churchyard and wondering with an immortal Alice in Wonderland at the patterns of the passing wall. This capacity to wonder at trifles--no matter the imminent peril--these asides of the spirit, these footnotes in the volume of life are the highest forms of consciousness, and it is in this childishly speculative state of mind, so different from commonsense and its logic, that we know the world to be good.

One could, with a good microscope, spend the rest of one's life studying a spoonful of dirt. The examination of Martian soils or Moon soils is important precisely because there is so little happening there that there is at least some possibility of making sense of it.

Back to wirk



Blogger butch said...

Vladimir Nabokov you say? Good quote, and good prose, and good steal, sir:

Pale Fire (1962) is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, his fourteenth and his fifth written in English. The Nabokov authority Brian Boyd has called it "Nabokov's most perfect novel".[1] It has drawn a great deal of critical attention, with commentators offering a wide variety of interpretations.

At first glance, Pale Fire is the publication of a 999-line poem in four cantos ("Pale Fire") by a famous American poet, John Shade. The poem digressively describes many aspects of Shade's life. Canto 1 includes his early encounters with death and glimpses of the apparent otherworldly. Canto 2 is about his family and the death (possibly by suicide) of his daughter, Hazel. Canto 3 is about his search for knowledge about an afterlife, culminating in a "faint hope" in higher powers "playing a game of worlds" as indicated by apparent coincidences. Canto 4 includes many personal details and Shade's thoughts on his poetry, which he finds to be a means of somehow understanding the universe.

The poem appears with a Foreword, extensive Commentary, and Index by Shade's self-appointed editor, Charles Kinbote, Shade's neighbor in the small college town of New Wye. According to Kinbote, Shade has been murdered and the poem remains unfinished. Kinbote takes it upon himself to oversee its publication, telling readers that it lacks only one line.

In the Foreword, Commentary and Index, Kinbote explicates the poem surprisingly little. Instead he tells his own story, notably including his friendship with Shade, and the story of Charles II Xavier, the deposed king of the "distant northern land" of Zembla who picturesquely escaped imprisonment by Soviet-backed revolutionaries. The reader soon realizes that Kinbote is Charles Xavier, living incognito—or, though he builds an elaborate picture of Zembla complete with samples of a constructed language, that he is insane and that his identification with Charles and perhaps all of Zembla are his delusions. A third story told by Kinbote in his Commentary is that of Gradus, an assassin dispatched by the new rulers of Zembla to kill the exiled King Charles.

Nabokov said in an interview that Kinbote committed suicide after finishing the book.[2] The critic Michael Wood has stated, "This is authorial trespassing, and we don't have to pay attention to it,"[3] but Brian Boyd has argued that internal evidence points to Kinbote's suicide.[4]

Kinbote's critical apparatus, especially his Commentary (in the form of notes to various lines) and Index, is full of cross-references and narrates his stories in a highly non-linear way. (The book has been cited by Ted Nelson as an archetypal proto-hypertext.)

Explanation of the title
As Nabokov pointed out himself,[5] the title of John Shade's poem is from Shakespeare's Timon of Athens: "The moon's an arrant thief, / And her pale fire she snatches from the sun" (Act IV, scene 3), often taken as a metaphor about creativity and inspiration. (Kinbote quotes the passage but doesn't recognize it, as he says he has only a Zemblan version of the play.) Some interpreters have noted a secondary reference to Hamlet, where the Ghost remarks how the glow-worm "'gins to pale his uneffectual fire" (Act I, scene 5).[6]

Some readers concentrate on the apparent story, focusing on traditional aspects of fiction such as the relationship among the characters.[7][8] They may make a case that Kinbote is parasitic on Shade, or that Shade's poem is mediocre and Kinbote, the inventor of Zembla, is a true genius.[citation needed] In 1997, Brian Boyd published a much-discussed study[9] arguing that the ghost of John Shade influenced Kinbote's contributions. He later expanded this essay into a book, in which he also argues that Hazel's ghost induced Kinbote to say things to Shade that inspired Shade's poem.[4]

Other readers see a story quite different from the apparent narrative. "Shadeans" maintain that John Shade wrote not only the poem, but the commentary as well, having invented his own death and the character of Kinbote as a literary device. According to Boyd,[9] Andrew Field invented the Shadean theory[10] and Julia Bader expanded it;[11] Boyd himself espoused the theory for a time.[12] "Kinboteans", a decidedly smaller group, believe that Kinbote invented the existence of John Shade. Boyd[9] credits the Kinbotean theory to Page Stegner[13] and adds that most of its adherents are newcomers to the book. Some readers see the book as oscillating undecidably between these alternatives, like the Rubin vase (a drawing that may be two profiles or a goblet).[14] [15] [16]

Though a minority of commentators believe that Zembla is as "real" as New Wye, most assume that Zembla, or at least the operetta-quaint and homosexually gratified palace life enjoyed by Charles Xavier before he is overthrown, is imaginary in the context of the story. The name "Zembla" (taken from "Nova Zembla", a former anglicization of Novaya Zemlya) may evoke popular fantasy literature about royalty such as The Prisoner of Zenda, signaling that it is not to be taken literally.[citation needed] As in so many of Nabokov's books, however, the fiction is only an exaggerated or comically distorted version of his own life as a son of privilege before the Russian Revolution and an exile after,[citation needed] and the central murder has resemblances (emphasized by Priscilla Meyer[17]) to Nabokov's father's murder by an assassin trying to kill someone else.

Some readers, starting with Mary McCarthy[18] and including Boyd, Nabokov's annotator Alfred Appel,[19] and D. Barton Johnson,[20] see Charles Kinbote as an alter-ego of the insane Professor V. Botkin, to whose delusions John Shade and the rest of the faculty of Wordsmith College generally condescend. Nabokov himself endorsed this reading, stating in an interview in 1962 (the novel's year of publication) that Pale Fire "is full of plums that I keep hoping somebody will find. For instance, the nasty commentator is not an ex-King of Zembla nor is he professor Kinbote. He is professor Botkin, or Botkine, a Russian and a madman."[5] In this interpretation, the "Gradus" who kills Shade is an American named Jack Grey who wanted to kill Judge Goldsworth, whose house Kinbote is renting. Goldsworth had condemned Grey to an asylum from which he escaped shortly before mistakenly killing Shade, who resembled Goldsworth.

Still other readers de-emphasize any sort of "real story" and may doubt the existence of such a thing. In the interplay of allusions and thematic links, they find a picture of English literature,[17] criticism,[14] or some other topic.

And now, dear readers of FEEL FREE TO LAUGH, you have a better handle on PALE FIRE.


1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo, Glenn!
This is not a comment on the literature in Stella's blog accompanying this, but is a plea for you to please paste the list of famous people born in 1935 and 1939; I have been unable to copy the complete lists as of yet, as here I am limited to only one hour a day on a computer in the Seattle Public Library System. In Germany, thanks to nepotisyic help from the "Lovely Librarian", I have unlimited (except by the library's closing hours) time on one of the computers in the State Library there.
Or could you please print a copy of both lists and give them to Lane, whom I will be seeing more often as I will be a tennant of his after mid-August. Thanks.
/s/ Anonomann

5:20 PM  
Blogger butch said...


Here is the list of the famous people born first in 1935:

1935 in other calendars Gregorian calendar 1935
Ab urbe condita 2688
Armenian calendar 1384
Bahá'í calendar 91 – 92
Buddhist calendar 2479
Chinese calendar 4571/4631-11-26
Coptic calendar 1651 – 1652
Ethiopian calendar 1927 – 1928
Hebrew calendar 5695 – 5696
Hindu calendars
- Vikram Samvat 1990 – 1991
- Shaka Samvat 1857 – 1858
- Kali Yuga 5036 – 5037
Holocene calendar 11935
Iranian calendar 1313 – 1314
Islamic calendar 1353 – 1354
Japanese calendar Shōwa 10
- Imperial Year Kōki 2595
- Jōmon Era 11935
Julian calendar 1980
Korean calendar 4268
Thai solar calendar 2478

1 9 3 5

January 4 - Floyd Patterson, American boxer (d. 2006)
January 7 - Valeri Kubasov, cosmonaut
January 7 - Kenny Davern, American jazz clarinetist
January 8 - Elvis Presley, American singer and guitarist (d. 1977)
January 9 - Bob Denver, American actor (d. 2005)
January 10 - Ronnie Hawkins, American musician
January 10 - Sherrill Milnes, American baritone
January 12 - Kreskin, mentalist
January 14 - Lucille Wheeler, Canadian skier
January 16 - A.J. Foyt, American race car driver
January 16 - Udo Lattek, German football coach
January 16 - Harvey Gardner, American actor
January 17 - Ruth Ann Minner, Governor of Delaware
January 18 - Jon Stallworthy, English poet
January 30 - Richard Brautigan, American writer (d. 1984)
January 31 - Kenzaburo Oe, Japanese writer, Nobel Prize laureate
February 4 - Martti Talvela, Finnish bass (d. 1989)
February 11 - Gerry Goffin, American songwriter
February 11 - Gene Vincent, American guitarist and vocalist (d. 1971)
February 14 - Rob McConnell, Canadian jazz musician
February 16 - Sonny Bono, American singer, actor, and politician (d. 1998)
February 17 - Christina Pickles, British actress
February 25 - Sally Jessy Raphaël, American talk show host
February 27 - Mirella Freni, Italian soprano

March 1 - Robert Conrad, American actor
March 1 - Judith Rossner, American writer (d. 2005)
March 4 - Bent Larsen, Danish chess player
March 6 - Ron Delany, Irish runner
March 15 - Jimmy Swaggart, American televangelist
March 15 - Judd Hirsch, American actor
March 18 - Ole Barndorff-Nielsen, Danish mathematician
March 22 - M. Emmet Walsh, American actor
March 24 - Peter Bichsel, Swiss writer
March 25 - Gloria Steinem, American feminist and author
March 26 - Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestine National Authority
March 27 - Abelardo Castillo, Argentine writer
March 27 - Julian Glover, English actor
March 31 - Richard Chamberlain, American actor
March 31 - Herb Alpert, American trumpeter
April 18 - Paul A. Rothchild, American record producer (d. 1995)
April 21 - Charles Grodin, American actor and journalist
April 21 - Thomas Kean, former Governor of New Jersey and 9/11 Commission Chairman
April 23 - Bunky Green, American jazz musician
April 25 - April Ashley, English model

May 2 - Lance LeGault, American actor
May 7 - Isobel Warren, Canadian author
May 12 - Felipe Alou, Dominican Major League Baseball manager
May 17 - Ryke Geerd Hamer, German cancer researcher
May 17 - Dennis Potter, English writer (d. 1994)
May 20 - Marinella, Greek singer
May 24 - Joan Micklin Silver, American director
May 25 - Cookie Gilchrist, American football player
May 27 - Lee Meriwether, American beauty queen and actress
June 2 - Carol Shields, American-born writer (d. 2003)
June 2 - Roger Brierley, English actor (d. 2005)
June 18 - John Spencer, British snooker player (d. 2006)
June 19 - Derren Nesbitt, British actor
June 21 - Françoise Sagan, French writer (d. 2004)

July 6 - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
July 8 - Vitali Sevastyanov, cosmonaut
July 9 - Wim Duisenberg, Dutch economist and politician (d. 2005)
July 11 - Oliver Napier, Northern Irish politician
July 13 - Jack Kemp, American football player and U.S. Vice Presidential candidate
July 15 - William G. Stewart, British television producer and presenter
July 17 - Peter Schickele, American composer and comedian
July 17 - Donald Sutherland, Canadian actor
July 18 - Jayendra Saraswathi, Hindu religious leader
July 27 - Billy McCullough, Northern Irish footballer
July 28 - Simon Dee, British television presenter
July 29 - Peter Schreier, German tenor
August 3 - Georgi Shonin, cosmonaut (d. 1997)
August 13 - Rod Hull, British entertainer (d. 1999)
August 15 - Jim Dale, English actor, singer and songwriter
August 15 - Lionel Taylor, American football player
August 18 - Rafer Johnson, American athlete
August 19 - Bobby Richardson, baseball player
August 20 - Ron Paul, American politician
August 22 - E. Annie Proulx, American author
August 26 - Geraldine Ferraro, U.S. Vice Presidential candidate
August 30 - John Phillips, American singer (d. 2001)
August 31 - Eldridge Cleaver, American activist (d. 1998)
August 31 - Frank Robinson, baseball player

September 1 - Seiji Ozawa, Japanese conductor
September 2 - D. Wayne Lukas, American horse trainer
September 11 - Gherman Titov, cosmonaut (d. 2000)
September 11 - Arvo Pärt, Estonian composer
September 16 - Carl Andre, American artist
September 16 - Bob Kiley, American public transit planner
September 17 - Ken Kesey, American author (d. 2001)
September 17 - Serge Klarsfeld, Romanian Nazi hunter
September 25 - Adrien Douady, French mathematician (d. 2006)
September 29 - Jerry Lee Lewis, American musician
September 30 - ZZ Hill, American musician
September 30 - Johnny Mathis, American singer
October 1 - Julie Andrews, English singer and actress
October 6 - Bruno Sammartino, Italian professional wrestler
October 9- Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
October 12 - Luciano Pavarotti, Italian tenor
October 14 - La Monte Young, American composer
October 15 - Bobby Joe Morrow, American athlete
October 15 - Willie O'Ree, Canadian hockey player
October 18 - Peter Boyle, American actor (d. 2006)
October 20 - Jerry Orbach, American actor (d. 2004)
October 21 - Derek Bell, Irish musician (d. 2002)
October 22 - Ann Rule, American true-crime writer
October 29 - Takahata Isao, Japanese animated film director
October 30 - Robert Caro, American biographer
October 30 - Agota Kristof, Hungarian writer
October 31 - Ronald Graham, American mathematician

November 1 - Edward Said, Palestinian-born literary critic (d. 2003)
November 9 - Bob Gibson, baseball player
November 10 - Igor Dmitrievich Novikov, Russian astrophysicist
November 13 - George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury
November 14 - King Hussein of Jordan (d. 1999)
November 17 - Toni Sailer, Austrian skier
November 21 - Fairuz, Lebanese singer
November 23 - Vladislav Volkov, cosmonaut
December 1 - Woody Allen, American film director
December 5 - Calvin Trillin, American writer
December 8 - Dharmendra, Indian actor
December 11 - Pranab Mukherjee, Indian politician
December 13 - Ken Hall, American football player, known as the “Sugar Land Express”
December 14 - Anthony Wilden, British author and social theorist, noted translator of Jaques Lacan
December 17 - Cal Ripken, Sr., baseball player and manager (d. 1999)
December 19 - Bobby Timmons, American jazz pianist (d. 1974)
December 23 - Paul Hornung, American football player
December 30 - Omar Bongo, President of Gabon
December 30 - Sandy Koufax, baseball player

Anono: This list expands when you pick your birthday out of the list, and search just for people born on that day.

Here is the list for 1939:

1939 in other calendars Gregorian calendar 1939
Ab urbe condita 2692
Armenian calendar 1388
Bahá'í calendar 95 – 96
Buddhist calendar 2483
Chinese calendar 4575/4635-11-11
Coptic calendar 1655 – 1656
Ethiopian calendar 1931 – 1932
Hebrew calendar 5699 – 5700
Hindu calendars
- Vikram Samvat 1994 – 1995
- Shaka Samvat 1861 – 1862
- Kali Yuga 5040 – 5041
Holocene calendar 11939
Iranian calendar 1317 – 1318
Islamic calendar 1357 – 1358
Japanese calendar Shōwa 14
- Imperial Year Kōki 2599
- Jōmon Era 11939
Julian calendar 1984
Korean calendar 4272
Thai solar calendar 2482

January 3 - Bobby Hull, Canadian hockey player
January 6 - Valeri Lobanovsky, Ukrainian footballer and manager (d. 2002)
January 9 - Malcolm Bricklin, American automotive pioneer
January 10 - Sal Mineo, American actor (d. 1976)
January 10 - Bill Toomey, American athlete
January 11 - Ann Heggtveit, Canadian skier
January 17 - Maury Povich, American talk show host
January 18 - James Gritz, U.S. Presidential candidate
January 19 - Phil Everly, American musician
January 20 - Chandra Wickramasinghe, British astronomer and poet
January 21 - Wolfman Jack, American disk jockey and actor (d. 1995)
January 22 - Ray Stevens, American musician
January 29 - Germaine Greer, Australian writer

February 6 - Mike Farrell, American actor
February 10 - Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada
February 10 - Roberta Flack, American singer
February 10 - Peter Purves, British actor and television presenter
February 12 - Ray Manzarek, American keyboardist
February 13 - Beate Klarsfeld, German-born Nazi hunter
February 20 - Frank Arundel, English footballer
February 21 - Gert Neuhaus, German artist
February 28 - Daniel C. Tsui, Chinese-born physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
February 28 - Tommy Tune, American dancer, choreographer, and actor

March 1 - Leo Brouwer, Cuban composer and guitarist
March 4 - Jack Fisher, former American Major League baseball pitcher
March 4 - Paula Prentiss, American actress
March 4 - Carlos Vereza, Brazilian actor
March 8 - Robert Tear, Welsh tenor
March 12 - Johnny Callison, American basball player (d. 2006)
March 13 - Neil Sedaka, American singer
March 14 - Raymond J. Barry, American actor
March 17 - Jim Gary, American sculptor (d. 2006)
March 20 - Brian Mulroney, eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada
March 31 - Zviad Gamsakhurdia, President of Georgia (d. 1993)
March 31 - Volker Schlöndorff, German film director

April 2 - Marvin Gaye, American singer (d. 1984)
April 4 - Hugh Masakela, South African musician
April 7 - Francis Ford Coppola, American film director
April 7 - David Frost, English television personality
April 13 - Seamus Heaney, Irish writer, Nobel Prize laureate
April 13 - Paul Sorvino, American actor
April 16 - Dusty Springfield, English singer (d. 1999)
April 20 - Elspeth Ballantyne, Australian actress
April 22 - Jason Miller, American playwright and actor (d. 2001)
April 23 - Lee Majors, American actor
April 25 - Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate
April 27 - Erik Pevernagie, Belgian painter

May 1 - Judy Collins, American singer and songwriter
May 7 - Sidney Altman, Canadian-born chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
May 7 - Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
May 7 - Jimmy Ruffin, American singer
May 7 - Marco St. John, American actor
May 9 - Ralph Boston, American athlete
May 12 - Ron Ziegler, White House Press Secretary (d. 2003)
May 13 - Harvey Keitel, American actor
May 19 - Livio Berruti, Italian athlete
May 19 - James Fox, English actor
May 19 - Dick Scobee, astronaut (d. 1986)
May 21 - Heinz Holliger, Swiss oboist and composer
May 23 - Reinhard Hauff, German film director
May 25 - Dixie Carter, American actress
May 29 - Al Unser, American race car driver
May 30 - Michael J. Pollard, American actor

June 1 - Cleavon Little, American actor (d. 1992)
June 3 - Ian Hunter (singer), English singer (Mott the Hoople)
June 6 - Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer
June 9 - Ileana Cotrubaş, Romanian soprano
June 9 - Dick Vitale, American basketball broadcaster
June 11 - Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver
June 15 - Brian Jacques, British writer
June 16 - Billy Crash Craddock, American country singer
June 16 - Richard Spendlove, British radio and television presenter and scriptwriter

July 5 - Booker Edgerson, American football player
July 14 - George E. Slusser, American scholar and writer
July 15 - Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal and former Prime Minister
July 17 - Milva, Italian singer and actress
July 21 - John Negroponte, U.S. Director of National Intelligence
July 26 - John Howard, twenty-fifth Prime Minister of Australia
July 26 - Bob Lilly, American football player
July 27 - Michael Longley, Irish poet

August 5 - Princess Irene of the Netherlands
August 12 - George Hamilton, American actor
August 17 - Luther Allison, American musician (d. 1997)
August 22 - Carl Yastrzemski, baseball player
August 29 - Joel Schumacher, American film producer and director
August 30 - John Peel, English disk jockey (d. 2004)
August 31 - Cleveland Eaton, American jazz musician

September 5 - Clay Regazzoni, Swiss Formula 1 Driver (d. 2006)
September 5 - George azenby, Australian actor (James Bond).
September 6 - Brigid Berlin, American actor and artist
September 6 - David Allan Coe, American musician
September 8 - Carsten Keller, German field hockey player
September 8 - Susumu Tonegawa, Japanese biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
September 8 - Guitar Shorty, American blues guitarist
September 9 - Ron McDole, American football player
September 13 - Richard Kiel, American actor
September 16 - Breyten Breytenbach, South African writer and painter
September 17 - Shelby Flint, American singer
September 18 - Frankie Avalon, American musician
September 23 - Janusz Gajos, Polish actor
September 26 - Ricky Tomlinson, British actor
September 30 - Len Cariou, Canadian actor and singer
September 30 - Jean-Marie Lehn, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate

October 1 - George Archer, American golfer (d. 2005)
October 7 - John Hopcroft, American computer scientist
October 7 - Harold Kroto, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
October 7 - Bill Snyder, American football coach
October 11 - Austin Currie, Irish politician
October 13 - T. J. Cloutier, American poker player
October 13 - Melinda Dillon, American actress
October 18 - Flavio Cotti, Swiss Federal Councilor
October 18 - Lee Harvey Oswald, Alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)
October 14 - Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer
October 22 - George Cohen, English footballer
October 24 - F. Murray Abraham, American actor
October 27 - John Cleese, British actor
October 30 - Leland H. Hartwell, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
October 30 - Grace Slick, American singer (Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship)
October 31 - Ron Rifkin, American actor

November 1 - Barbara Bosson, American actress
November 6 - Athanasios Angelopoulos, Greek academic
November 9 - Paul Cameron, American psychologist
November 10 - Russell Means, Native American activist
November 16 - Michael Billington, British drama critic
November 18 - Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer
November 18 - Brenda Vaccaro, American actress
November 21 - Mulayam Singh Yadav, Indian politician
November 23 - Bill Bissett, Canadian poet
November 26 - Tina Turner, American singer
November 27 - Laurent-Désiré Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (d. 2001)

December 1 - Dianne Lennon, American singer (The Lennon Sisters}
December 2 - Yael Dayan, Israeli writer and politician
December 8 - James Galway, Irish flautist
December 11 - Thomas McGuane, American writer
December 13 - Eric Flynn, British actor and singer (d. 2002)
December 17 - Eddie Kendricks, American singer (The Temptations)
December 18 - Alex Bennett, American radio personality
December 18 - Robert T. Bennett, American politician
December 18 - Michael Moorcock, English writer
December 18 - Harold E. Varmus, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Nice to hear that you are in the Northwest at the moment. Hope your Opera viewing was fruitful and fun. And I hope these lists meet with your satisfaction.


6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Glenn, for the renewed list of 1935 and 1939 "babies". I have now copied the significant ones. At least those significant to me (and, those I believe of significance to the "Lovely Librarian". I'll show the 39ers to her when I return for two weeks in Schwerin (13-26 June.
I'm sure she too will be grateful to you!!

5:19 PM  

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