NABOKV-L post 0026724, Wed, 23 Dec 2015 11:10:24 -0200

Probing into biblical versions again
While I was listening to Haendel’s “Messiah” last Sunday I was once again reminded of Kinbote’s lines in Pale Fire when the soloist/choir sing: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” : Isaiah 40:4 (also in Luke 3:5)*. However, it hadn’t occurred to me before that, should we connect this biblical reference to another one made by Kinbote in the foreword to Pale Fire [ “ For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (King James Version of the Bible)], we might gain some information about Kinbote’s Catholic faith (Orthodox? Roman? Anglican?), Zemblan religion and his Prof. V. Botkin origins. After all, Prof. Hurley’s words obey a different reading from the traditional KJV.**
The glitch is that in both references Kinbote is quoting someone else’s words. Our way out depends on our accepting Kinbote’s affirmation that he had very few books and notes in his possession in his “Tymon of Athens’ cave” and that he could be misquoting both Hurley and Lane by following his own familiarity with the Bible while reproducing their sentences. Discovering more about Kinbote/Shade/Botkin by following this “crooked/straight” path seems to create more convolutions and reliefs that stand in the way of the blind reader than clarify issues. But it’s an interesting pursuit, anyway – for those familiar with those religious texts and readings.


*- There are various postings about this subject in the VN-L. Here is one of them: F.K.Lane's letter, written on the eve of his death, mentions: "The crooked made straight. The Daedalian plan simplified by a look from above smeared out as it were by the splotch of some master thumb that made the whole involuted, boggling thing one beautiful straight line." This bird's-eye view might have appealed to Kinbote and Shade but the "beautiful straight line" is probably unrelated to any Nabokovian perspective of the hereafter. The reader must wander, cross and get cross at the various dead-ends and unfulfilled views and forking paths. <;%20charset=iso-8859-1&XSS=3&header=1> &L=NABOKV-L&E=quoted-printable&P=1248321&B=------%3D_NextPart_000_0017_01C982C9.98C95AE0&T=text%2Fhtml;%20charset=iso-8859-1&XSS=3&header=1

**- “Another pronouncement publicly made by Prof. Hurley and his clique refers to a structural matter. I quote from the same interview: ‘None can say how long John Shade planned his poem to be, but it is not improbable that what he left represents only a small fraction of the composition he saw in a glass, darkly.’ Nonsense again! Aside from the veritable clarion of internal evidence ringing throughout Canto Four…” Here the sentence follows Martin Luther’s interpretation (in a glass: mirror and not through a glass: window), not the King James version in English. Its echoes are already present in John Shade’s verses: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/ By the false azure in the windowpane;” and line 132 strange variation: “ I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/ By feigned remoteness in the windowpane.” which indicate the like “in a mirror” reading by emphasizing the deceiving reflecting surface of the glass.

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