NABOKV-L post 0018720, Fri, 30 Oct 2009 13:42:08 -0600

Re: Frost/Shade Query
Both the poem and the notes makes it clear that Shade wasn't Frost, so
obviously he must have been. QED!

Seriously, in my limited reading of /Pale Fire/ commentary, I don't remember
anything that said Frost was the model for Shade.

Similarities: Both were male American poets and professors who wrote in
rhyme and meter, often using rural settings. Both liked to start with
natural or homely themes and turn to philosophy or psychology or esthetics,
often ending in self-mockery and bathos, as neither liked to write grand
rhetoric. Both were fascinated by the sound of verse, though Shade
sometimes played with it much less subtly than Frost.

Of Frost's six children, one son committed suicide at 17 or 18, and only two
survived him, according to

Differences: Shade was 24 years younger, which probably explains why he
wrote a book of free verse. Frost's poetry was much more private (as far as
I've read) and slier. Frost didn't like to use rare words the way Shade
did. And in my opinion, though Shade has his moments, Frost can be far
better--Shade and Kinbote hit the nail on the head.

Shade lived all or almost all his life in one town; Frost lived in many
places, including England. Frost was basically northern (apart from his
birth in California and many winters in Florida), and Shade was nominally
southern. Nabokov lived in a house belonging to Frost, but he never lived
in one belonging to Shade.

I find it hard to believe Frost was more than a small part of Nabokov's
inspiration. I think that if he were The Original of Shade, Nabokov would
have researched him thoroughly, but Nabokov said he'd read very little of
Frost beyond "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".

Jerry Friedman

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