Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027104, Mon, 11 Jul 2016 19:09:49 -0300

Red caps and Pale Fire
From the List: "According to Kinbote, Shade wrote Pale Fire in July. In his
Commentary Kinbote mentions red sweaters and red caps, ginger bread and
zhiletka blades: 'He never would have reached the western coast had not a
fad spread among his secret supporters, romantic, heroic daredevils, of
impersonating the fleeing king. They rigged themselves out to look like him
in red sweaters and red caps, and popped up here and there, completely
bewildering the revolutionary police. Some of the pranksters were much
younger than the King..' " (A.Sklyarenko)

Jansy Mello: Did anyone connect Kinbote suporters's impersonations of him,
or even his own outfit, with a commentary he made to Line 929: Freud?

"The little cap of red velvet in the German version of Little Red Riding
Hood is a symbol of menstruation.//(Quoted by Prof. C. from Erich Fromm, The
Forgotten Language, 1951, N.Y., p. 240.) // Do those clowns really believe
what they teach?." There are many curious examples of "freudian
interpretations" to choose from, if you pursue their writings in the way
that Charles Kinbote suggests that he did (although he explains that "Alas,
I find only two items preserved in my notebook"). I wonder if his selection
has any significance in particular for him. The most classic (non-Freudian)
interpretation, warning young maids off pedophile predaators, is offered by
Charles Perrault himself: "From this story one learns that children,
especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to
listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby
provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same
sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition - neither noisy, nor
hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids
in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these
gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!" (wikipedia).
Among early psychoanalysts (including Freud) the wolf represents a much
feared devouring father - and one who enjoys fondling his children (VN's
transformed version of uncle Ruka?).
btw:Erich Fromm's article about the fairy-tale is much longer than CK's
quote who thereby limits and ridicules Fromm's interpretation.

There's a recurrence of the red-cap theme in PF, now in relation to a
Steinman (a cairn; also the name of a tennis player who is also a Charles,
the Beloved voice impersonator according to CK):

"He skirted the pool. High up in the deep-blue sky jutted the empty ledge
whereon a counterfeit king had just stood. A shiver of alfear
(uncontrollable fear caused by elves) ran between his shoulder-blades. He
murmured a familiar prayer, crossed himself, and resolutely proceeded toward
the pass. At a high point upon an adjacent ridge a steinmann (a heap of
stones erected as a memento of an ascent) had donned a cap of red wool in
his honor. He trudged on. But his heart was a conical ache..."(line 149)

"A suggestion," I said, quivering. "1 have at my place half a gallon of
Tokay... if you agree to show me your 'finished product,' there will be
another treat: I promise to divulge to you why I gave you, or rather who
gave you, your theme."

"What theme?" said Shade absently, as he leaned on my arm and gradually
recovered the use of his numb limb.

"Our blue inenubilable Zembla, and the red-capped Steinmann, and the
motorboat in the sea cave, and -" (line 991)

"The Zemblan Revolution provided Gradus with satisfactions but also produced
frustrations. One highly irritating episode seems retrospectively most
significant as belonging to an order of things that Gradus should have
learned to expect but never did. An especially brilliant impersonator of the
King, the tennis ace Julius Steinmann (son of the well-known
philanthropist), had eluded for several months the police who had been
driven to the limits of exasperation by his mimicking to perfection the
voice of Charles the Beloved in a series of underground radio speeches
deriding the government. "(line 171).

I wonder what would have been VN's artful (deliberate) projects towards the
more audacious freudian interpreters...

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