Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015754, Sun, 2 Dec 2007 23:52:20 -0500

SKB: without daring to identify Shade’s wench (I’m still busy working on
that elusive Dark Shady Lady!)

Dark Shady Lady? Did I miss something?



Matt Roth:

While I cannot fully sign onto Jim Twigg's notion that Aunt Maud is the
"wench," and I don't agree with Carolyn that Shade's five fingers
represent lovers, I continue to
believe that John Shade is a much more complex and troubled character
than most traditional readings of the novel allow.

Dear Matt,

Here are the pertinent lines:

I stand before the window and I pare
My fingernails and vaguely am aware
Of certain flinching likenesses: the thumb
Our grocer's son; the index, lean and glum
College astronomer Starover Blue;
The middle fellow, a tall priest I knew;
The feminine fourth finger, an old flirt*;
And little pinky** clinging to her skirt.
And I make mouths as I snip off the thin
Strips of what Aunt Maud used to call "scarfskin."

Who are these people? Why do they make Shade flinch? Isn't that the same
priest in sexual ecstasy described by Kinbote? Any alternative

Carolyn Kunin

p.s. I never called them lovers, they were hardly that!

* Aunt Maud
** the wench?

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