Carolyn Kunin <chaiselongue@att.net> wrote:

Have we straightened out the timing disparity? Is there really one? As I have mentioned, I think it probably that he, the bright little parricide aged seven, was a matricide -- oh, now I see:†the misunderstanding stems from parricide meaning not patricide, but murderer of a parent or parents, grandparents, too I should suppose. I too made that boo boo in earlier readings. Check it out.

Well, you did say he offed his parents (plural), so I don't think it was too big a boo-boo on my part to think you meant to include his father.† What was a mistake was thinking you meant killing his father was his only murder and thinking that "bright little parricide aged seven" must mean that's how old he was when he killed whoever it was (though it certainly seems likely).† I see that you and I did have this discussion once before and you did hint that you thought Shade had killed his mother--so I forget not only what you wrote but what I wrote.

I did forget that parricide means "A person who kills a near relative (now usually a father)" as the OED puts it.† One of the citations is "1570†† J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) I. 896/1†† Thus was Solyman murderer and paricide [1583 parricide] of hys owne sonnes."† This should widen the field for you.

So what do you think?† Did he kill his father when he was between three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half?† How old was he when he killed his mother?† How old might Judge Goldsworth have been when that picture was taken, and is that consistent with what we know about him later?† Is Kinbote wrong when he says that the pictures were "of people he had sent to prison and condemned to death", or did little Johnny go to prison and get out in time to marry Sybil, who didn't mind his having killed his parents?† And did Kinbote read this little criminal's life history, which he said was in the album, and suppress the fact that it was Shade's?


Dear Jansy,

You wrote: †Why do you suppose that "the little parricide" was John Shade? All I got was:†"I wish to convey, in making this reference to Wordsmith briefer than the notes on the Goldsworth and Shade houses, the fact that the college was considerably farther from them than they were from one another. It is probably the first time that the dull pain of distance is rendered through an effect of style and that a topographical idea finds its verbal expression in a series of foreshortened sentences."††There are other clues, right? What are they?

The other clues are in Jekyll and Hyde. I just realized that this part of your note was not addressed to me.

(I think it was addressed to you.† I don't recall anyone else suggesting recently that "the little parricide" was John Shade.)

Nevertheless ... if you accept my hypothesis that there is a relationship between Pale Fire and Jekyll and Hyde, then you will find it interesting to note that Shade doesn't know what his parents look like.

I imagine one piece of evidence for this is "I've tried / So often to evoke them that today / I have a thousand parents.† Sadly they / Dissolve in their own virtues and recede".† Is there any other?

That doesn't say he doesn't know what they looked like.† Maybe he used photographs in many attempts to evoke specific memories of them, how they sounded, how they held him, what they did.† He appears to be interested in their "virtues", not their faces, though I find "Dissolve in their own virtues" hard to understand.

I found it odd -- apparently no one else does.* †What is then interesting is to note that Dr Jekyll's younger brother (so to speak), Mr Hyde, destroys all evidence of Jekyll's parents. In a fit of pique, he destroys all letters written from J to his parents, and his (or their, I guess) father's portrait.

I took this and ran with it to the bank. Do you see? the implication, I mean. What I mean is that like Hyde, Shade destroyed -- must have destroyed -- his parents portraits. Why would he do such a thing? Do you see now? I thought it likely that Shade, having killed his mother (his 'younger brother, Kinbote**) couldn't bear to have any reminders - or perhaps, good old Doctor Colt told Aunt Maude to hyde them (pun intended).

So if Shade really hasn't seen pictures of his parents, maybe he didn't destroy the pictures, in which case there's much less resemblance between him and J&H.

Carolyn
*as I noted when I initially reported this trouvaille, we live in the age of photographs. How is it possible that Shade doesn't know what his parents looked like?

We live in that age, but Samuel Shade didn't.† The Kodak Brownie became available in 1901, the year before the year of Samuel's death.† Before that, I believe photography was only for specialists.† I don't think we can be sure that there would have been good pictures of his parents at or close to the time when John Shade was alive.

**Kinbote, as I noted many moons ago, refers to Hyde's first crime in J & H. And as someone else noticed, perhaps Jerry F?, or possibly Charles from Scandanavia?, that the name Charles (masc. form of Caroline) might have been derived from his mother's.

I don't think it was me.† It's certainly true, and it makes me wonder when Kinbote found out Shade's mother's first name.

I can't recall now, but I also figured out that she, his mother, was possibly of Russian descent, making Shade the "scholar of Russian descent" at Waindell, commonly supposed to refer to Kinbote.

Wordsmith, and Botkin is the character who Kinbote says is an "American scholar of Russian descent".

Charles is hardly a Slavic or Scandanavian name - nor is Kinbote either, for that matter. Well, all of this is to be found in the archives, for any who wish to pursue it further.

Overtly, Charles is an anglicization of Karl, and Kinbote is "a kind of anagram of Botkin or Botkine."† Those seem like suitably Slavic and Scandinavian origins, not that I see any bearing either way on your reading of PF.

Jerry Friedman


From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Sent: Mon, April 29, 2013 10:56:15 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Minor points: Surnames and name days

Jansy Mello:†inspite of innumerous inspired angles and photography, or the play inside the play blending fictional reality and its representation, I disliked enormously the recent production of Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright. The real world of a novelist, at least its intelligibility,†gains consistency by details (caress them) and I missed them all, inspite of all the luxurious lamps and trinkets.
Jerry Katsell
:†Perhaps Nabokov, who was capable of uninhibited, uproarious laughter, would have enjoyed some original details in the Joe Wright directed Anna Karenina. My favorite moment was during†the race scene when Frou Frou, Vronsky holding on for dear life, crashes into the orchestra†pit.†J

Jansy Mello: During this episode I kept expecting the farcical†race horse scene from "My Fair Lady."† The meaty stumbling Frou Frou filled me with pity.

†††††
Abdel Bouazza: The recollection of children playing among other games hide and seek on Vladimirís name-day and forgetting about Peter who was still hiding and therefore missed the picnic he was looking forward to is from VNís short story ďA Bad DayĒ (Obida, 1931) included in Details of a Sunset & Other Stories.
Jansy Mello: One added information: a celebration on Vladimir's name-day was described in his short story "A Bad Day."† And, of course, a precise correction by AB: the scene I had in mind was not included in†"Speak,Memory." †
Jerry Friedman: I didn't remember Carolyn Kunin's suggestion "that John Shade is the young miscreant that was judged by Judge whatsisname (next-door neighbor) with the alphabetic daughters, for having offed his parents when he was but a wee bairn."† This runs into problems with the timing.† The more important one, probably, is that Kinbote's statement that the little parricide was seven (n. 47-48) would contradict his statement that Samuel Shade died in 1902 (n. 71), which is when John was three or four.
Jansy Mello: Why do you suppose that "the little parricide" was John Shade? All I got was: "I wish to convey, in making this reference to Wordsmith briefer than the notes on the Goldsworth and Shade houses, the fact that the college was considerably farther from them than they were from one another. It is probably the first time that the dull pain of distance is rendered through an effect of style and that a topographical idea finds its verbal expression in a series of foreshortened sentences."† There are other clues, right? What are they?
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All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.