Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020784, Tue, 28 Sep 2010 16:38:02 -0300

Re: Botkin
James Twiggs: "although we, as readers of VN’s novel, can see just how mad Botkin/Kinbote is, this would not necessarily have been so clear to his colleagues...By the way, why is it so seldom mentioned that Shade, in his obsession with the afterlife, is a bit on the batty side himself and that Sybil is something of a shrew? "

JM: We seem to agree that Shade was quite "batty," although Sybil, as a shrew, must certainly derive from Kinbote's own vision of her! Anyway, a great many mental illnesses exhibit no dramatic outward signs. Pulling open Gerald's emerald bow-tie or playing pingpong with two sets of tables seems to be harmless enough, just like Kinbote's reported conversations with his colleagues in Wordsmith. Kinbote, at times, seems to be saner than Shade, were it not for something masterfully conveyed by Nabokov, a visual element (confessedly interested in observing and reproducing little ticks and idiosyncratic gestures) that makes me sense, always, Kinbote's manic jauntiness, shiny eyes, syncopated movements, independently of what he writes about himself.
In Brazil, thanks to the Jesuits (Kinbote might have been educated by them, although he mentions Augustine and not Aquinas) we had a flourishing barroque period. I cannot remember anything barroque in America, except for..say.. Nabokov?

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