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Unread 07-01-2021, 01:05 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default V. Nabokov

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff -and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.
And from the inside, too, I'd duplicate
Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
Uncurtaining the night, I'd let dark glass
Hang all the furniture above the grass,
And how delightful when a fall of snow
Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
As to make chair and bed exactly stand
Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!

― Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Loving the metaphor for six lines, Im unable to unpack it from L7 to the end. Can someone with better explication powers help me out?
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Unread 07-01-2021, 01:34 PM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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I'm reading, very simply, that when it gets dark outside and the inside is lighter, when you look through a window you get to see the inside projected on the outside. So the furniture inside appears to hang over the garden outside. And the extra height of snow appears as a new floor for the bed. Or is that too simple?
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Unread 07-01-2021, 02:15 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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I had that too, Joe; Ralph, were you hoping for something deeper? I think the title might be significant, perhaps for the sense of a pale life, a life lived mostly indoors where the world of the window takes on immense significance.

Of course I suggest this as someone whose broken leg confined her to bed in one room for almost three months last year. A lot of window watching occurred!
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Unread 07-01-2021, 03:00 PM
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But “uncurtaining the night” sounds like removing what lets in light, so how’s the glass “dark” ? That’s where my mind freezes.
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Unread 07-01-2021, 05:22 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Ralph,

I think if you read uncurtaining as "removing the curtains that block out the night," the conundrum will be resolved. :-)

Cheers,
John
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Unread 07-01-2021, 05:33 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cu...-a-masterpiece
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Unread 07-02-2021, 02:25 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Isbell View Post
Hi Ralph,

I think if you read uncurtaining as "removing the curtains that block out the night," the conundrum will be resolved. :-)

Cheers,
John
Exactly that, in my reading too. Draw the curtains, and all will be revealed. Inside/outside and scale blurring. The watcher/narrator inhabits an in-between space where in their very vision, imagination and real is blurred and the impossible becomes real.

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 07-02-2021, 10:54 PM
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Thanks, all. You’ve jarred my memory enough to recall how doubles and shadows work in this novel/poem as “an artful prank,” and throughout his work—I am in possession of the most remarkable reading ever of Lolita by one of my undergrads. No critic has ever understood it better and I keep it in a safe as I continue to search for her in this 45th year since she left it in my mailbox and disappeared. It’s called “Lolita in Shadow.”
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Unread 07-03-2021, 01:59 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Ralph, that is a touching and funny comment! I'm glad to hear the thorny passage fits better now into your vision of the piece.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 07-03-2021, 05:26 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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RCL, if I don my post-post-modernist rabbit ears and tail I might think you're gaming us.

I love, love that I don't quite know. You are one of the most interesting people on this website, though, and I'm forever in your debt for introducing me to Thoreau.

Sarah
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