Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shakespeare, as Gretchen Minton pointed out, was probably N.'s biggest cause of "anxiety of influence"(if one is going to talk like Harold Bloom). Really Shakespeare's probably every writer's biggest anxiety of influence, but what if N. wasn't inspired by Shakes, but by another Will? There is a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled A Poet to His Beloved, with a line that references "the pale fire of time." Or maybe N. , being the sneaky super-genius, knows this and had both Wills in mind for the title of his book?

I thought it was interesting how Chris, in his attempted deciphering of Hazel's transcribed letter groups, finds that a word that cogently comes out repeatedly is "atalanta". What is an atalanta? It is a butterfly, alternately known as the Red Admiral or Red Vanessa(one of Shade's terms of endearment for Sybill in the poem), the same butterfly that crosses Shade's and Kinbote's path before Shade is shot by Gradus--or Jack Grey?--. What duhya know?

And it has been discovered that the books "Amber to Zen" that Kinbote reads while staying in the Goldsworth's house are Forever Amber and The Prisoner of Zenda. The former what I refer to as 'trash novels'(and I would know because my mother reads a great many of them), the latter is one among many examples of the pulp fiction trope of a tiny European country that does not exist. From Zenda we have Ruritania, we have Oz, we have Freedonia from Duck Soup(apparently N. loved the Marx brothers, which I did not know)and we have Cagliostro from The Castle of Cagliostro, Hayao Miyazaki's first film as a director(a movie I happen to enjoy very much).

It was suggested that Kinbote, in his reading of 'pointless' books and developing a fantastical new reality out of them, is very much like Don Quixote. Now that certainly isn't implausible(N. stated in a couple of places that he thought Don Quixote was the greatest novel ever written). As a character I'd say that Kinbote maybe isnt' as charming or admirable as the Knight of the Sorrowful Face, but he certainly does have imagination.

It was also brought up that Disa, King Charles wife, "the Duchess of pain and moan", means "double" in Greek, as well as a particular genus of orchid. And Charles meets her when she is dressed as a dancing boy. Shades of Twelfth Night are we getting? Oh Willy Shakes, you are indeed inescapable!

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