Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015712, Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:07:55 -0500

Re: Thoughts Re: [NABOKV-L] Brian Boyd on Apples in PF
"What is childish, though, is identifying himself with the
waxwing. I think children are said not to see clear
boundaries between themselves and external things..."

I do not agree with one of Jerry Friedman's comments. I do not think
that the first verse paragraph takes place during Shade's childhood.
At least, not the first four lines. Shade sees himself, not as the
waxwing, but its shadow. The waxwing assumes the continuity of sky,
freedom, life. Shade shows that he too is tempted to make this
assumption (thus the association with the waxwing in the first place),
but he maintaines his distance and avoids the obvious metaphor. While
the physical bird is killed, the shadow continues. A stand-in for the
sky, a stand-in for the bird.

I think this reflection (no pun intended) is indicative of a wisdom
that comes with experience, a wisdom that is echoed at the end of
Canto 4: "...As I am reasonably sure that I/Shall wake at six
tomorrow, on July/The twenty-second, nineteen fifty-nine..." Shade,
though "reasonably sure" of his continued existence, does not take it
for granted. He is not so foolish to think that because the sky
appears to be there, it is.

Sadie Powers

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