Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015686, Wed, 21 Nov 2007 08:19:20 -0500

Re: QUERY: Pappa pisses and Pippa passes - a pale fountain girl:
Lolita and Pale Fire
Dear Jansy,

I have seen a lot of English and US homes with a beautiful plate
with fruits in the sitting room, but they are not supposed to be
eaten, if you ask one, often the hosts consider it as not very
polite, almost an offence (but they do not tell you this directly).
It seems that you, Jansy, take for granted that any
apple on the table is there to be eaten (is it so in Portugal
and Brasilian culture?). VN (or Kinbote)
might want to show that there is a bit of hypocrisy,
but not necessarily more pronounced in Shade that in
the anglo-american society in general. What impact it has on poetry?
I wonder how often the discussion on this site are coming
from cultural differences, how often due to them we see as
a symbol something that is not.

Best regards,

Sergei Soloviev

> 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
> 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,
> 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?

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