Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002502, Sat, 25 Oct 1997 10:16:18 -0700

Re: PALE FIRE: Kinbote & "The X-Files" (fwd)
From: naiman@socrates.berkeley.edu

The October issue of Lingua Franca has a "Field Note" entitled "Deny All
Knowledge." By Scott McLemee This is a short review of a book by D.
Lavery, A. Hague and M. Cartwright, entitled Deny All Knowledge: Reading
the X-Files (Syracuse, 1996). I quote the last three paragraphs:
In a footnote, the editors add that the episode's intertextual
references "range from the esoteric (Alex Trebek) to the exoteric (the
name of the third alien, who interrupts the gray aliens about to abduct
Chrissy and Harld, in the precredit sequence, is, we later learn, Lord
Kimbote,' the name of an abscure character in Vladimir Nabokov's Pale
Fire.) Note of the three of us, all english professors, was able to make
the latter indentification, which we owe to an X-Files discussion group."
Formidable erudition ineed! The troika made haste to include Pale Fire
in the book's ten-page bibliography -- along with the requisite number of
citations to the work of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Jacques
Lacan. For there is indeed a figure in the novel named "Kinbote.") (Not,
unfortunately, "Kimbote," but close enough for the encyclopedically
allusive.) Indeed, Nabokov entrusts this "obscure character" with the
responsibility of narrating the book.
Of course, it is the sheerest pedantry to expect that three English
professors might, among them, manage to use the terms "esoteric" and
"exoteric" correctly. After all, it's hard to read anything, even a
dictionary, in the time it takes to fast-forward through commercials.