Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015765, Mon, 3 Dec 2007 12:02:49 -0800

C Kunin responds & queries

On Dec 3, 2007, at 9:41 AM, Matthew Roth wrote:
> Carolyn asked me why I think Shade flinches at his five fingers.
> On a literal level, he is flinching because he is afraid he will
> cut himself as he trims his cuticles. But I admit that there may
> be secondary connotations to this flinching that I cannot explain.
> Nor can I explain why Shade chooses those five people. I have
> always read it as Shade simply being whimsical, showing off his
> fanciful nature. But I will admit that as whimsy it falls a bit
> flat for me, so I would be happy to understand a higher purpose.
> As for skin trimming itself, I have toyed with the idea that this
> is related to Shade being a "skin changer," but I'm not
> particularly satisfied with that explanation. Still, isn't it
> interesting that Aunt Maud, John Shade and Hazel (psoriatic
> fingernails) all seem to have had nail-grooming issues? Why have we
> been supplied with that information?

from Carolyn Kunin to Matt Roth, RGS and the LIst:

Matt, why is Shade afraid he will cut himself? I trim my cuticles
once a week with a little scissor like the one Shade describes,
although mine doesn't have any cosmic connections, " a dazzling
synthesis of sun and star" his seems to have. I only flinch after
I've cut myself, not before - - perhaps Shade is a reincarnation of
Carroll's Red Queen?

Those five people are associated with something painful, something
manual, don't you think? That's how I figured it.

By the way, as a response to RSG 's accusation that I lack
compassion, I started in the St. Shade camp - - there was no other
that I am aware of - - and it was very hard indeed to give up that
lovely character I had grown to love. But the evidence against Shade
is really there, from his name to his fingers and to his own words -
- he feels "shame," says he has been "corrupted," his youth
"demented, his life "twisted". That is an awful burden of guilt for -
- for what? normal "growing pains"?

Shade carries a terrible burden of guilt which in my Jekyll/Hyde
interpretation of PF explains Kinbote's obsession with religion &
his confusion of pain, pleasure & sexual ecstasy (I'm thinking of
that priest), also his interest in Augustine and the Confessions. At
least Kinbote has the decency to seek redemption!

Matt, did I miss something? What were Aunt Maud's hand grooming
issues, aside from using the odd word scarfskin to refer to cuticles?


p.s. perhaps the "dazzling synthesis of sun and star" has something
to do with Starover Blue? perhaps synthesis is a pun? perhaps sun is
a pun? Any ideas?
p.p.s. I do wonder if anyone has every read the Confessions in the
PF context? If not, I may try to as my interest in religion has been
piqued since I last read PF.

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