Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015679, Tue, 20 Nov 2007 14:49:35 -0500

QUERY: Pappa pisses and Pippa passes - a pale fountain girl:
Lolita and Pale Fire
There's never an end to surprises when I return to Nabokov.
I was re-reading certain lines of Shade's poem: " And from the inside,
too, I´d duplicate/ Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:/Uncurtaining
the night, I´d let dark glass/ Hang all the furniture above the
grass..." and suddenly Shade's apple on a plate glared at me.
Why would Shade mention an apple right at the start of "Pale Fire", as a
part of his familiar surroundings when, later, we find Kinbote writing
that: "Shade said that with him it was the other way around: he must
make a definite effort to partake of a vegetable. Beginning a salad, was
to him like stepping into sea water on a chilly day, and he had always
to brace himself in order to attack the fortress of an apple." ?
Would this lead us to doubt Kinbote's words about Shade's dislike for
apples, or would it be some kind of admonition for something "fake" in
the scene described in the poem?
In recent postings M.Roth brought up the theme concerning Browning's
"Pippa Passes" in connection to Kinbote's comments to line 347:
"As we were skirting Dulwich Forest, he interrupted me to indicate a
natural grotto in the mossy rocks ...This was the spot where the good
farmer invariably stopped...pointed and remarked informatively: 'Here
Papa pisses'."
I was reminded today about a passage in "Lolita" ( where there is a
reference to Browning's Pippa) and a "pale fountain girl"
"She watched the listless pale fountain girl....You have a lovely child,
Mr. Humbert. We always admire her as she passes by. Mr. Pim watched
Pippa suck in the concoction."
I wonder, now, if the theme about "pissing" and "fountain" in relation
to young children ( at this point there are casual references to a young
boy and a young girl, in Pale Fire and in Lolita) and linking these two
apparently disconnected mentions in two of VN's novels has been

Jansy Mello

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