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Pale Fire - Evidently a Joke

Submitted by Alain Champlain on Wed, 10/30/2019 - 21:16

I'd like to point out an element of Nabokov's style in Pale Fire, which is his use of words like "obviously" and "evidently." These go a long way in creating the voice for Kinbote. They also often signal an irony, a joke which Kinbote isn't a part of, helping to reveal a reality which Kinbote is in conflict with. (I want to stress the joke aspect though: Nabokov is really funny, and I don't want that to get lost in academese.)

Here are a few examples:

Re: Brown Study

Submitted by MARYROSS on Thu, 10/24/2019 - 13:08

Re: Brown Study


This is a continuation of an idea I proposed in a comment on in Alain Champlain’s post, “Tea With Ancestors.”  Since it is rather long, I don’t wish to hijack Alain’s insightful take on Shade’s poem lines 365-366 (Submitted by Alain Champlain on Sun, 10/20/2019 - 16:22) 


[...] and you would be
In your own study, twice removed from me,”

Q & H

Submitted by Shakeeb_Arzoo on Tue, 10/22/2019 - 15:38

For a long time I was wondering why this phrasing sounded so familiar (the scene where Quilty is murdered):

"He was naked and goatish under his robe, and I felt suffocated as he rolled over me. I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us."

Apart from the instinctive farcical-comedy of the scene, I always felt an echo of something I had read before. Was casually re-reading some Joyce, when I came across this:

Tea with Ancestors

Submitted by Alain Champlain on Sun, 10/20/2019 - 19:22

I mentioned recently, in my post "A FEW BRIEF NOTES ON SPACETIME IN PALE FIRE," that "twice removed" might in part be a joke about John and Sybil Shade being related. Two pertinent lines:

"[...] and you would be
In your own study, twice removed from me,”
(Lines 365-366)

“John Shade’s wife [...] was a few months his senior. I understand she came of Canadian stock, as did Shade’s maternal grandmother (a first cousin of Sybil’s grandfather, if I am not greatly mistaken).”
(From note to line 247)


VDN's Swan Pen Advertisement

Submitted by matthew_roth on Thu, 10/17/2019 - 11:27

While searching for Nabokovian items in a new digital archive, I happened upon the attached ad for Swan fountain pens, with a quote from Nabokov's father. The ad campaign is mentioned by VN on page 255 (Chapter 13) of Speak, Memory, though his recollection of the art doesn't match the version here. Enjoy.

Matt Roth

Korona-Vorona-Korova Shakeeb_Arzoo Tue, 10/01/2019 - 14:44

I have been very busy with Hopkins but here's a brief note that might please some. It seems like Prof. Kinbote's commentary to line 803 of Shade's poem entitled "misprint" has a precedence in another poet's musings. Kinbote writes:

Elemental spirits, Pope and a clue to the barn message in PF

Submitted by MARYROSS on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 18:15

PALE FIRE is a pastiche of parody, drawing from many sources. My particular focus has been Jungian archetypes and alchemy. Of course it is well known that the satirical poets of the 18th Century, Pope, Swift and Johnson comprise a major constituents in Nabokov’s “bursting spongebag” novel. They each made fun of the alchemy of the day. I admit to not knowing much about these men, so I’m doing some catch-up and discovering some interesting things that support my theories.



Pope’s Rape of the Lock:

Arcadia/Arcady/Acadie MARYROSS Wed, 09/18/2019 - 17:30

Gerard De Vries, I want to thank you for your recent posts about Sybil and Huguenot Protestantism. It has helped me find another link to forge in my Jungian/alchemic theories of Pale Fire.