NABOKV-L post 0022753, Thu, 26 Apr 2012 09:19:23 -0700

VN's poetic genius and PF poem
JM: How nice to see you back to your old form ranging from the
pianíssimo to the forte...

In your opinion VN was a superb poet who "has yet to be properly
recognized as such." The article Brian Piano Forte quoted [Vladimir
Nabokov and William Shakespeare by Philip F Howerton, Jr.] apparently
confirms your opinion

Do you think that all the fuss around John Shade's poem "Pale Fire"
did Nabokov a disservice in connection to VN's poetic genius?

Hello Jansy,

It's nice to be back. I have not read the Howerton article, but your
quote refers to poems written in Russian presumably, none of which I
have read.

As for the controversy over the PF poem, I did overhear (pianissimo as
you say) the discussions from afar, but did not join in because my
opinion depends to so great an extent on my interpretation of the
novel, that it would only mean fighting those old wars again - no
point to that.

But since you ask, I felt the controversy was the result of mis-
reading the novel. Personally? I adored the Shade poem, therefore I
adored Shade. But when I came to suspect Shade of deception, my
understanding of the poem had to expand to include all the truths
about himself that I felt Shade was hiding in it - from himself as
well as from his virtual reader. I also feel that at the point that
Shade suffers a cerebral stroke/psychotic break, that the poem breaks
down as well and ceases at that point to be even a fictional work of

The way I see it, the poem's integrity depends on its function within
the novel. I continue to feel that Pale Fire is an unsurpassed and
probably unsurpassable work of art and that in conceiving of it and
realizing his conception in poetry and prose, VN proved himself
capable of near supernatural achievement.

Forte-pianistically yours,

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