NABOKV-L post 0010440, Sat, 23 Oct 2004 18:23:50 -0700

Fwd: Pale Fire, John Shade's Ghost is Utana Host?
I just found out about this list by reading Brian Boyd's fascinating
NABOKOV'S PALE FIRE, right after rereading PALE FIRE. I knew of Boyd's
book, having read a review, so while I was rereading PALE FIRE, I was on
the lookout for ghosts.

One ghostly series that struck me isn't mentioned by Boyd, and I wonder if
other readers have thought about it. There are three or four instances of
drunken, gray-haired old men that Kinbote runs into --- might all of these
be John Shade? The man who is running the Utana camp where Kinbote writes
his commentary seems likely to be Shade. Kinbote also recalls a night of
drinking where he comes to his senses walking around a farm with a
garrulous old man, another Shade. I think there's an old man feeding
seagulls whom Kinbote recalls, perhaps another Shade shade.

And what about the carousel with its revolving lights that Kinbote thinks
is outside his cabin in Utana? Check out "Pale Fire," lines 609 - 616,
which sounds like Shade imagining haunting Kinbote in the cabin.

"Nor can one help the exile, the old man [alright, Kinbote isn't old]
Dying in a motel, with the loud fan [carousel-like object]
Revolving in the torrid prarie night [Utana is wild west]
And from the outside, bits of colored light [visions of Zembla]
Reaching his bed like dark hands from the past [the New Wye days]
Offering gems; and death is coming fast [The poem, Kinbote is near suicide]
He suffocates and conjures in two tongues [Enlgish and Zemblan]
The nebulae dilating in his lungs." [Nebulous tales he tells.]

Rudy Rucker

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