NABOKV-L post 0018282, Fri, 1 May 2009 15:42:31 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: Roth/DeRewal article in NOJ, Part 1
Jerry Friedman:"Like others, I've found a great deal of interest in Matt Roth's and Tiffany DeRewal's close reading of /Pale Fire/...I agree with Jim Twiggs that the multiple-personality theory solves the main objection to the Shadean theory...Matt and Tiffany point out that Hazel's ghostly influence doesn't explain the coincidence of Shade's clockwork toy and Kinbote's gardener...If the toy and the person are both "real", then the coincidence is beyond any characters' control; if not, Kinbote could have made up the toy or the gardener or both, or Shade could have made up at least the gardener's wheelbarrow as a private reminiscence of his toy. (on somnambulism) When he describes himself as dividing in two, in the sleepwalking episode and the way he writes poetry, both halves are Shade, not some repressed self seeking release."

M.Roth (off-list to JM, on Webster's wolf): "wolves digging up graves is an essential element of the werewolf myth, as when, in Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, we see Prince Ferdinand (the lycanthrope) emerge from the graveyard holding a human leg. Also, there is one more fox in PF, at least tangentially. That would the be fox in Edsel Ford's poem "The Image of Desire," from which Kinbote quotes."

JM: Not being a "plot-person" I was particularly interested in Edmund White's criticism in The New Republic (nov.20,1995):"Very Pale Fire," when he writes: "Details, of course, are at the heart of Nabokov's fiction. If he often relies on clumsy, too-paraphrasable and punchy plots, he does so because they function as the strong frame on which are cantilevered notations of color, sound, smell and touch, notations that are evocative but often static, especially when dwelled on at great length. In the earliest stories, we see his love of shimmering detail in its purest, least narrative form."
I find it hard to remember what are the "Shadeans" and therefore I miss out on most of the fun. For me there is Vladimir Nabokov all the time, his plays,plexes,plights, ploys and pluck...
Of course, White wrote about VN's short-stories, not his novels - but even so there is an exageration in summing them up as: "clumsy, too-paraphrasable and punchy plots." Even so, his suggestion that plots are a "strong frame" on which synesthetic notations ( and VN as a non-poliphonic "Wally", I must add) are cantilevered, makes sense to me.

Jerry Friedman, quite often in Pale Fire it is suggested that Gradus is Kinbote's automaton, his clock-work toy, his (and our) death drive. You might remember that in Nabokov's earlier novel, King, Queen, Knave, there are automatons, a gardener trundling a barrow, a Red Vanessa...
You seem to be warming up to my opposition to the "multiple personality disorder" when you state "both halves are Shade, not some repressed self seeking release." Soon you'll admit Freud's theory of the unconscious (our repressed experiences and memories are not another self, merely the aspects one doesn't want to include in the selfimage we've built.) It is often difficult to discern hysteric fits and epileptic attacks (there is even an old diagnostic category for "hystero-epilepsy"). Freud considered Dostoevsky's epilepsy, in part, as a manifestation of hysteria.

Matt, thank you for the information about one more fox in PF. I ignore almost everything concerning folkloric werewolves but, like Jerry, I enjoy their aptness as a metaphor of our "beast inside."

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