Mary McCarthy. Public domain photo by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer - Library of Congress. Via Wikipedia bio of McCarthy.
This week: Commentary for Lines 181-182 to commentary for Line 334. Pages 108 to 123 in my old paperback, but your mileage may vary.
Line 230 commentary: " ... his picture of Hazel is quite clear and complete; maybe a little too complete ... " Talk about an unreliable narrator, here is an unreliable commentator, actually complaining about the poem being about the poet's dead daughter, rather than the commentator!
Line 238 commentary: If you wondered what a cicada looks like:
Annual cicada: Creative Commons photo by Bruce Marlin.
Line 247 commentary: "a king sized botfly." Could refer to Prof. Botkin, possibly Kinbote's real identity. Bot flies, also known as gadflies, have larvae that are internal parasites of mammals.
One of Poussin's Arcadian Shepherds paintings, e.g. "Et in Arcadio ego" paintings.
Line 286 commentary, first paragraph: "Even in Arcady, am I, says Death." A translation of "Et in Arcadio ego." Which is the title of a well-known painting. Which connects to the work of Robert Anton Wilson. As the Wikipedia article I just linked to puts it: "The authors of the pseudohistory The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982), under the false impression that 'et in arcadia ego' was not a proper Latin sentence, proposed that it is an anagram for I! Tego arcana dei, which translates to 'Begone! I keep God's secrets', suggesting that the tomb contains the remains of Jesus or another important Biblical figure." The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail theory is referenced in RAW's work. See for example RAW's reference to the painting in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" in Email to the Universe.
Readers of this blog also will enjoy a private amusement that this paragraph of Nabokov's has the number 23. It's also amusing that this famous modernist novel can be connected, however fleetingly, to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
I recently discovered that Mary McCarthy's famous review of Pale Fire is online. Read it here. For a time, McCarthy was married to Edmund Wilson, once an important friend of Vladimir Nabokov.
"This centaur-work of Nabokov's, half poem, half prose, this merman of the deep, is a creation of perfect beauty, symmetry, strangeness, originality, and moral truth. Pretending to be a curio, it cannot disguise the fact that it is one of the very great works of art of this century, the modern novel that everyone thought dead and that was only playing possum." -- Mary McCarthy