NABOKV-L post 0026545, Sun, 18 Oct 2015 21:37:29 +0300

Hazel Shade & hope in Pale Fire
In Canto Two of his poem Shade writes about his daughter and mentions hope:

I think she always nursed a small mad hope (l. 383)

This seems to confirm that Hazel Shade’s “real” name is Nadezhda Botkin and that VN inverts the saying nadezhda umiraet posledney (hope dies last). Btw., in his poem Kakaya grust’! Konets allei… (“What grief! The alley’s end…” 1862) Afanasiy Fet (who was married to Maria Botkin) mentions nadezhda (hope) that still glows in his heart:

А всё надежда в сердце тлеет,

Что, может быть, хоть невзначай,

Опять душа помолодеет,

Опять родной увидит край…

But in my heart still glows a hope

That accidentally, perhaps,

My soul will once again grow young

And see its native land once more…

One of Fet’s most famous poems begins: Izmuchen zhizn’yu, kovarstvom nadezhdy… (“By life tormented, and by cunning hope…” 1864):

Измучен жизнью, коварством надежды,

Когда им в битве душой уступаю,

И днём и ночью смежаю я вежды

И как-то странно порой прозреваю…

By life tormented, and by cunning hope,

When my soul surrenders in its battle with them,

Day and night I press my eyelids closed

And sometimes I'm vouchsafed peculiar visions…

I dnyom i noch’yu (day and night) in the third line brings to mind Professor Oscar Nattochdag (the head of the department to which Kinbote belongs), whose surname means in Swedish “night and day.” Fet’s poem has the epigraph from Schopenhauer:

Die Gleichmäβigkeit des Laufes der Zeit it in allen Köpfen beweist mehr, als irgend etwas, das wir alle in denselben Traum versenkt sind, ja das es ein Wesen ist, welches ihn träumt.

The evenness of the passage of time in all heads demonstrates more than anything else that we all are immersed in the same dream and that in fact it is one Being that dreams it.

This seems to suggest that Shade, Kinbote and Gradus (the three main characters of Pale Fire) are immersed in the same dream and that the dreamer is Botkin.

Btw., according to Schopenhauer, “hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability.”

Alexey Sklyarenko

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