NABOKV-L post 0026499, Sun, 4 Oct 2015 18:09:21 -0300

{Thoughts] The real and the semblance in Pale Fire
There are occasions when a familiar text suddenly opens up onto a new query
that adds a different perspective for an author’s work. In this case, it’s
point of departure came from a paragraph in VN’s “Pouchkine, le vrai et le
vraisemblable” ( I don’t have its translation in English) that has been
published for the first time in the NRF (1937) arguing about “the real

The selected lines fit so perfectly into their original context that, until
now, I had never tried to apply them to another one.

Today I was reminded of John Shade’s poem “Pale Fire”, its “real”
autobiographical elements and the partially “real” and delirious commentary
by C.Kinbote. Fictive poet, fictive commentator, real author: what is
“real” in the novel, what is fake (duperie), where does it carry us in
sensations, cultural atmosphere, private dreams ( life and its pastiche,
life and its commentary)? Do VN’s observations about how he immerses himself
into Pushkin’s life and entourage reflect what the present reader can
recover about VN while listening to JS and CK? Did he have his old “thesis”
in mind when he composed PF and what does it reveal about VN’s views about
art or his “intended” essence in JS’s poem read in isolation?

The line that stimulated me begins with: “A poet’s life is like the pastiche
of his work” (quoting: “La vie d’un poète est comme le pastiche de son
oeuvre. Le passage du temps semble vouloir répéter le geste du génie, em
prêtant à son existence imaginée la même teinte et le même contour que le
poète avait donnés à ses créatures... Qu’importe au fond, si ce que nous
voyons n’est q’une immense duperie.” Pouchkine: le vrai et le

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