Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015788, Thu, 6 Dec 2007 19:32:04 +0000

Re: darker thoughts on Disa in PF
Dieter Zimmer writes:

>>> Kinbote may have been oblivious to this derivation [the Disa mythology], but
>>> Nabokov certainly was not

Am I alone in my puzzlement? Is this some accepted meta-level of
meta-narrative analysis where the author/creator, VN, deliberately sets out
to confuse the reader about which of VN¹s allusions are known or unknown to
his creature-characters? This added layer on top of teasing the reader with
more direct allusions (searchable by the patient-curious) and, to borrow
from a current idiom, possible identity-thefts! At least with the latter, we
have His Master¹s Voice speaking outside the novel (and oft-cited and taken
seriously by leading PF-scholars who grace our list!):

Pale Fire "is full of plums that I keep hoping somebody will find. For
instance, the nasty commentator is not an ex-King of Zembla nor is he
professor Kinbote. He is professor Botkin, or Botkine, a Russian and a

All the Tom Thumbs are thereby encouraged, although it does seem to set
limits on some of the wilder character-identity interpretations. On the
other hand, knowing that the commentator is VN-certified mad does open the
door to creative reader fancies. Long may we plum- and cherry-pick.

PS: Let¹s not forget VN¹s reaction to Mary McCarthy¹s dazzling
allusion-mining (e.g., the Penguin edition preface). VN welcomed them all,
including the ones he had not intended.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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