Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022170, Mon, 14 Nov 2011 00:34:08 +0000

Re: Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade
Matt Roth responding to RS Gwynn:

RSG: Are you saying that Shade wrote the line about Sybil and the 9 concluding lines while Sybil was near the tree, then fell asleep in his swing, then was awakened by Kinbote with Sybil mysteriously gone? He wasn't using a digital camera, you know. He was writing a poem, not a piece of reportage.

MR: I am of course aware that Shade could well have made up ALL of the details in his final scene. Maybe it was actually a rainy day in January, which would mean that Kinbote's account of the poem's composition is a complete fantasy. If, however, we accept that the date and time of day in Shade's poem are meant to be taken literally, then it is natural, I think, to note the fact that Kinbote seems to affirm all the various details we read in the poem--the date, the time of day, the red admiral, the gardener with wheelbarrow, etc.--except the presence of Sybil. I find that odd, and I wonder if VN wants us to notice.

Matt Roth

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