NABOKV-L post 0014455, Wed, 20 Dec 2006 07:38:45 -0800

Twiggs Pale Fire essay (a response to our many discussions of the
> ³And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own
favorite cat, and said, ŒBut Hodge
> shall not be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.¹²
> What we have here is a perfect, and perfectly obvious, example of sentimental
hogwash--i.e., one of the
> standard and least harmful forms of poshlust.

Dear Mr Twiggs,

Although I enjoyed reading your letter, and though I have my doubts about
the quality of Canto iv (my least favorite) I don't see any pohslust' in the
epigraph. Anything said "in a sort of kindly reverie" can't possibly be
poshlust', can it? Also I don't think kitsch and poshlust' are quite the
same thing, though not sure why. I've never cared much for Nabokov's
poshlust' idea, I have to admit.

In my view, Shade, in his quiet fashion, is just about as bad. Kinbote is,
in fact--though in ways he is often unaware of--a far more reliable source,
especially on matters of importance, than the supposedly honest, sensible,
and straightforward John Shade.

On the whole, though, I think your jaundiced view of PF, the poem, is on the
right track, and fits my theory of Shade as lunatic nicely, too. I also see
signs of Shade's crackup in Canto iv, the strokes that allow the fully
insane (yet highly knowledgeable as you noticed) Kinbote to emerge.

Like Shade himself, the poem is seductive, but not disingenuously so.



Search the archive:
Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies: