Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022196, Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:52:00 -0200

Pale Fire's "facsimile edition"
Finally Vladimir Nabokov's poem "Pale Fire" by Gingko Press is available in Brasília. The box, containing the artistic presentation of Shade's poem and two essays by B. Boyd and by RS Gwynn, announces that "This first-ever facsimile edition of the poem shows it to be not just a Nabokovian novelistic device, but a masterpiece of American poetry, albeit by an 'invented persona'."

When Nabokov quotes a short poem by John Shade in Strong Opinions* he is endorsing a reality that readers could find only in Charles Kinbote's annotations. Perhaps the lines about "The Sacred Tree" (a Gingko!) are indeed "a quatrain from John Shade's collection of short poems Hebe's Cup," and there's an arc of Gingko Trees "at the end of the so-called Shakespeare Avenue," in Wordsmith, as real as John Shade. After all he is "by far the greatest of invented poets."

The different applications of terms like "reality," "fiction," "invention" may confuse some critics. Nabokov once described an "an anonymous clown, writing on Pale Fire in a New York book review" who "mistook all the declarations of my invented commentator in the book for my own." Nevertheless, just as the black and white Gingko leaflet describes a "...first-ever facsimile edition...", instead of a "first-ever invented facsimile edition..." of John Shade's poem, these equivocations keep on adding amusing and necessary twists to Nabokov's "persona" and to his real fiction.

* September, 1965. Interview with Robert Hughes. Published in Strong Opinions, Vintage ed.,p.51. Cf. also p.18

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