NABOKV-L post 0021251, Fri, 28 Jan 2011 15:35:16 -0700

Re: [NABOKOV-L] A dead end: Dr. Sutton in Pale Fire
On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 8:58 AM, Jansy <> wrote:

> *Pale Fire*: CK's note to line 119: Dr. Sutton: " This is a recombination
> of letters taken from two names, one beginning in "Sut," the other ending in
> "ton." Two distinguished medical men, long retired from practice, dwelt on
> our hill. Both were very old friends of the Shades; one had a daughter,
> president of Sybil’s club — and this is the Dr. Sutton I visualize in my
> notes to lines 181 and 1000. He is also mentioned in Line 986."

> If we believe in Kinbote's testimony, Dr. Sutton is actually two
> different doctors with the same name, both living in the same hill
> as Goldsworth and Shade.

If I may skip the peculiar Chateaubriand coincidence that led Jansy to this,
I'd like to point out that though the two doctors both live on the same hill
(which I'd forgotten), they don't have the same last name. One name might
be Suttinan and the other might be Danton, though I'm sure I wasn't the
first to suggest Sutcliff and Clifton.

I find the whole two-doctors thing puzzling. Why is it more interesting for
Shade to have combined two doctors into one than for him to just know one
Dr. Sutton? Are we supposed to be able to tell one from the other in his
poem? Why, for that matter, are there four doctors mentioned in New Wye
(also Colt and Ahlert)? I suppose there are none mentioned in Zembla--that
I remember--because nobody gets sick there, except for occasional whooping
cough among peasant children.

And why does Kinbote say he "visualizes" one of the two Doctors Sutton when
he's describing scenes he claims he witnessed (n. 119)? Maybe to cast a
blur of unreality over those scenes that he seems to remember in such sharp

Jerry Friedman

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