NABOKV-L post 0020910, Tue, 26 Oct 2010 20:08:21 -0400

Pale Fire's omniscience (and italics)
Jerry Friedman replies:

On 10/25/10, Simon Rowberry wrote:

[some things I agree with]

> Finally, as the italics show, Kinbote is not afraid to modify the poem.
> Therefore, why did he not append his line 1000 onto the poem's end?

I think that's a very interesting question. One answer is that he
does seem to have some editorial scruples. I don't remember any
arguments that he modifies the poem (other than italics), and at least
some of the times he invents variants, he eventually admits they're
"K.'s contribution".

Another possible answer is that Kinbote's version of Shade's last line
isn't all that great if Shade wrote it while sitting in his "Nest", as
we would believe. We might ask why it's any different from the first
line. That could be why Shade hasn't decided on its exact wording
yet. But if the line enters the poem in our minds after Shade has
died, when we're free to imagine him flying on in the reflected sky,
then it can have cosmic (or comic) significance. Kinbote may realize
this, or Nabokov may realize it and prevent his galley slave from
disturbing it.

Possibly amusing but implausible thought: Shade did write a last line
and Kinbote suppressed it, thinking that the blank and his filling of
it were more interesting.

There was some discussion of Disa a little while ago. Another
possibly amusing thought: Would Nabokov have enjoyed reversing
Freudianism to make Kinbote's creation of Disa a result of his
repressed heterosexuality?

For some reason this reminds me, Stan, that "nates" rhymes with
"mateys", according to the dictionaries.

Jerry Friedman

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