Saturday, 3 April 2010


Pierre Delalande (1768-1849), Nabokovs invented 'favourite' author, says several things about death. Here's one (quoted by Brian Boyd here):
I know that death in itself is in no way connected with the topography of the hereafter, for a door is merely the exit from a house and not part of its surroundings, like a tree or a hill. One has to get out somehow, but I refuse to see in a door more than a hole and a carpenter's job.
But this isn't right, and is indeed entirely made up; for what Delalande (a twentieth, not eighteen- and nineteenth-century writer, born 1968, died 1999) actually said was: 'we leave life as the toothpaste leaves the tube, propelled against our will; and the shape we take in the hereafter is determined by the force of our expelsion and the shape of the nozzle.' Or again, the mock-epigraph to Invitation to a Beheading:
Comme un fou se croit Dieu, nous nous croyons mortels.
But this is very far from the whole quotation, which in the original concludes '... mais, mais il est certain que parfois le fou soit un dieu.' Without its cap, the quotation makes no sense at all. With it, it becomes a profound meditation on the necessary divinity of our mortality, the Kierkegaardian insanity of faith in our own sacred status.

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