Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002660, Mon, 22 Dec 1997 12:38:29 -0800

Re: PF narrator?: PF/Hamlet (fwd)
>EDITOR's NOTE. If memory doesn't fail me, Greg Wickliff is the author of a
>dissertation on the interaction of VN's scientific writings and his
>literary, and, especially his "critical" writings during the 1940s.
>From: Greg Wickliff <gawickli@unccvm.uncc.edu>
>readers that fictive author/ fictive critic interplay isn't unique to Pale
>Fire -- that VN consistently points readers to question the credibility of
>perceptions, especially those gleaned from texts. The action of The Eye
>depends upon such uncertainties, as does a reading of the second half of
>The Gift, and the close of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight makes the same
>gestures as Pale Fire -- a fictive narrator appropriating the text
>(biography) of a fictive author, and parodying the fictive critic (Goodman)
>until personalities seem to merge: "Sebastian's mask clings to my face,
>the likeness will not be washed off. I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or
>perhaps we both are someone whom neither of us knows."
>Other examples include Krug and Ember's critical appropriation of Hamlet in
>parody of the State's appropriations in Chapter 7 of Bend Sinister. It
>seems VN parodies his own critical enterprises in the whole of the Gogol
>book with its counter-chronological structure, fictive Commentaries with a
>fictive publisher, and the playful index. And of course, there is John
>Ray, Jr in Lolita, and the playful intertexts of Transparent Things and
>Look at the Harlequins!, and I'm sure Nabokv-L subscribers can think of
>other examples.
>My point is (I think) that while Pale Fire is a fictive world that forces
>on us questions of fictive credibility, coherence, and textual
>appropriation (of one character's perceptions by another), it's just one of
>a larger set such fictions where VN consistently asks (forces) us reflect
>on textual perception and the author/ critic roles. Pale Fire might be the
>best specimen of this, but it's not, for VN's work, the holotype. I think
>VN invites us often to ask if one character could have authored another,
>but I doubt that he would want us to credit anyone but himself for that
>authorship, for working the question into the very structure of fictions.
>In the words of the narrator of Sebastian Knight, it becomes an assertion
>". . .the soul is but a manner of being -- not a constant state -- that any
>soul may be yours, if you find and follow its undulations."
>Sam Schuman wrote:
>>Coincidentally, this reading tends to put me in the camp of those who say that
>>the "did Shade create Kinbote, or vica versa" discussion is the wrong
>>discussion, since Nabokov so intrusively created them both. In one sense,
>>of the fun of PALE FIRE is watching figments of the author's imagination
>>fighting to assert their superior "reality."
>Greg Wickliff
>Department of English
>University of North Carolina at Charlotte
>ph. 704 547-2778

Greg Wickliff
Department of English
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
ph. 704 547-2778