Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003453, Tue, 27 Oct 1998 15:09:40 -0800

Correction of Brian Boyd's article abstract (NABOKOV STUDIES 4
EDITOR's NOTE. The NABOKV-L abstract that was run as part of the Table of
Contents of NABOKOV STUDIES 4 (1997) was badly corrupt (in the technical
sense). The article is an adapted version of a section from Boyd's
forthcoming book _PALE FIRE: The Magic of Artistic Discovery_. The volume
deals with the much debated issue of the narratorship of PALE FIRE.
A corrected abstract follows.
Brian Boyd, "Shade and Shape in PALE FIRE." In NABOKOV STUDIES #4 (1997),
pp. 173-224.

Much criticism of Pale Fire has settled into one of
four positions: 1) Shade and Kinbote as distinct; 2) Shade as covert
author of the whole; 3) Kinbote as covert author; and 4) an
irresolvable oscillation between 2 and 3. After surveying these
positions I show what makes 2, 3 and 4 untenable. Yet the insistent
chorus of covert echoes between poem and commentary (many at
Kinbote's expense) makes 1 inadequate. I propose a new solution.
Kinbote can have developed the Gradus parts of his Commentary only
after Shade's death. The particularly close association between Shade
and Gradus (birthday, Sudarg of Bokay and Shade's mirror-making of
genius, "gradus" and "shade" as "degree") and the emphatic
counterpointing of the Gradus story and the composition of the poem
(odd, when Kinbote stresses counterpoint as such a characteristically
Shadean device) can be explained, I propose, if after Shade's death
his shade has helped shape the Gradus fantasy in Kinbote's mind.
The annual issue of NABOKOV STUDIES containing Boyd's article may be
ordered from Editor Zoran Kuzmanovich <ZOKUZMANOVIC@DAVIDSON.EDU>