Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015560, Mon, 8 Oct 2007 16:39:09 EDT

Re: reply to one of Matt Roth's query & a counter-query
In a message dated 10/8/2007 2:41:31 PM Central Daylight Time,
chaiselongue@EARTHLINK.NET writes:
> Dear Matt,
> At the risk of committing the almost unforgivable faux-pas of quoting one's
> self, here is something I sent to the List five years ago on this question:
> Q. Explain to me again, how do we know that Shade has a mistress?
> R. Shade tells us that "Aunt Maud lived to hear the next babe cry." Kinbote
> correctly points out that this can hardly refer to Hazel but by implication
> this "next babe," born in her later years, must be a blood relative of
> Maud's. The only people capable of engendering a child who would be related to the
> elderly Maud are Shade and Hazel. Since there is no apparent (sorry) child
> who fits this description in Shade's poem, he or she seemingly no longer exists
> or has moved out of Shade's orbit and certainly has not been recognized as a
> legitimate child or, in the unlikely event that Hazel is the parent,
> grandchild.
> I went looking for a child fitting these parameters, and found that Shade
> had put him and his mother in Canto II as the "other love" of a widower at IPH
> and her son who died together in a head-on collision on a wild March night.
> This child has a mother who is not Hazel, so by deduction Shade must be the
> father. The mother, the blonde in a black leotard, was a student of Shade's
> and she is said to "haunt Lit 202." This turns out to be literally true, since
> "the other love," "die Mutter mit ihrem Kind" and the blonde in a "ballerina
> black" leotard all refer to the same person, a former student who committed
> suicide taking her child with her in an automobile "accident."
Looking at the passage closely (567-96), I find it apparent that the unnamed
widower's first wife had a child and that both were killed in a car wreck.
The "second love" is the one in "ballerina black."

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