NABOKV-L post 0025117, Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:17:39 -0800

Subject
Re: n-rereadings of PF: dualities...
Date
Body
Dear Jansy,

I was going to say that Kinbote was probably looking on, but it can't be ... he hasn't made the trip to America yet, so I guess at this point neither is aware of the other. Right?

Carolyn


________________________________
From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 10:16 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] n-rereadings of PF: dualities...



Reading again the very familiar opening lines of Pale Fire I noticed that a special feeling had escaped me until then. Although what I’m considering now must be familiar to a great many Nablers, I’ll set it down here as a stimulus for further discussions. I’m not a Shadean but this new reading apparently reinforces the Shade-authorship point of view.  
 
In his opening verses John Shade isn’t only describing his experience of confronting Summer or Winter while looking out from the windows of his study, or establishing an analogy between his actual emotions and his recollection of a shattered waxwing, to indicate that at present he is also feeling shattered,hoping to avoid depression to be able to “live on” by writing a poem.Actually, he is also warning us that he is not only in his study but, by a play of mirrors, that he also finds himselfoutside, in a “crystal land” (Zembla?).*
 
The shades of blue he describes are very different during the day (mainly azure) and at night. Although the passages alternating light and dark, West and East, life and death, Summer and Winter are not subtle, their stark contrast was subdued for me so I didn’t notice that the poet makes “death,” at that moment, gain the upper hand, as if he were feeling dead to the world.
 
The fact that I never bothered to take sides, preferring the more naïf version that the novel PF was written by V.Nabokov who describes in it the “mental story” of two different characters (a poet, and a commentator/editor), this realization puzzled me. What was Shade’s intention when he describes his own dual nature?
Was he demonstrating how he felt trapped by his physical condition and how he only recovered life while standing outside himself in a mirror-land?
Was V.Nabokov laying a trap so that - instead of recognizing the he (John Shade), just like the independent Kinbote (or Prof. Botkin), is also “doubled” -  the readers could be led to suppose that he and C.Kinbote are one and that it’s John Shade who invents Kinbote and Zembla?
 
There’s also the phantom third to consider in both cases. John is the shadow of a dead waxwing, he is its ashen fluff and its living reflection on a false azure sky (which would correspond to his finding himself in a crystal land and writing a poem). Charles Kinbote (or Botkin) is also Charles II, the Beloved and the assassin Gradus.  I cannot figure out any correspondences here, despite CK’s effort to synchronize John Shade’s moving hand to Gradus’s progress.
 
When  “night unites the viewer and the view” does Shade mean that he has finally managed to integrate his contrasting traits and emotions, or does it have a religious tinge related to IPH and a “return to the bosom of his Creator”?
 
 
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
*- Editing the lines for emphasis we read: “… And from the inside, too, I’d duplicate
                                                  Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
                                                  Uncurtaining the night, I’d let dark glass
                                                  Hang all the furniture [   ] …
                                                  As to make chair and bed exactly stand
                                                  Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!
                                                  [  ] And then the gradual and dual blue
                                                  As night unites the viewer and the view…”
 
 

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