Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002643, Thu, 18 Dec 1997 11:02:43 -0800

PF narrator?
From: Patrick Nolan <pnolan@animalwelfare.com>

A few stray Pale Fire thoughts...

The fairy-tale atmosphere of the Zemblan king's life and daring
escape is radically different from the "homespun" Appalachian tone of
Shade's poem. However, I think it's worth pointing out that Kinbote's
tale has no outright physical impossibilities, whereas Shade's poem has
a domestic ghost, a phantasmal barnlight, a medically dubious near-death
experience, and speculation on how a remarried widower would feel in
heaven. Now who seems more believable?

About "Shakespearean intertextualities" in addition to this from Timon
of Athens:

"The sun’s a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea: the moon’s an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun:

...most appropriate for the notion that Kinbote snatches Shade's fire.
But there's also King Hamlet's

"The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire"

Does this have any relevance?

Lastly, something that has always perplexed me is the overlap of
characters between Pnin, Pale Fire, and Lolita. Of course Wordsmith's
ridiculous bald professor is our dear Timofey ("about whom the less said
the better,") but what's the timeline look like?
What happens between Pnin's stint at Waindell and his hiring at
Wordsmith? Is there any connection between the narrator of Pnin, his
dark doings during Timofey's last days at Waindell, and the mysterious
Botkin? And what about Prof. Starover Blue?
Are these academics meant to be consistent from book to book?
Could one map out their various careers with anything like realism?

Puzzled as ever,

Patrick Nolan