Jeff Edmunds comes closest. I recall talking about possible models with
my father. It is true that, on a different occasion, he excluded Rubenstein,
who might have seemed a possible part of the mix. But a mix, to a degree, it
was: part erratic genius Alekhin, part Capablanca whom he challenged, part
the self-defenestrated Bardeleben, perhaps others. But the main ingredient
of the mix was the catalyst of VN's imagination. Traits (observed or known) of
real people may reappear in Nabokov's fiction. That can be said of much-investigated Pnin;
it can be said, to a lesser degree, of Bachmann; it can be theorized regarding
Shade; or one can consider Lance (in a sense an exception to the rule).
But fiction it remains, and one must be able to imagine that a writer has
license to imagine, and sometimes to synthesize, unless he is composing
that oxymoron, the "historical" novel. The same is true of the hunt for
real-life solutions in the realm of authorial fantasy, say with regard to
Pale Fire. VN would have been distressed to learn that, carried
to an extreme, such obsession might lead to mental imbalance. Yet, one unusual
e-correspondent claimed to have "solved" that novel after years of labor,
and to have ascertained that the author had stashed eleven million dollars
(a sum mentioned in a quite different context) to be awarded to the solver.
When I jokingly dimissed his thesis, he demanded belligerently that I "pay
who did invent whom? Curious and perceptive readers have been searching
for clues since Day One. Father once told me it made just as much
sense to postulate that the author had endowed Shade and Kinbote with the
capacity to invent each other, but that one must not lose sight of the fact
that the same author had invented everyone. He kept his characters on a
short figurative leash, and said, in a TV interview, that they"quivered"
at his passage.
has now posited a finite, roughly spherical universe, with up to ten dimensions.
We'll see about that, or maybe not. But a dimension does exist for the inventions
of an original, creative author.
be curious to read Jeff's Silvery Light. Also The Oiginal of
Laura cleverly pictured on the Web. Also The Original of Laura, less
cleverly "based on Nabokov" by a certain Shishkin and announced
as being "in preparation" by a publisher named Vagrius.