NABOKV-L post 0018292, Wed, 6 May 2009 02:53:25 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: JF's replies to Andrea Pitzer and Jansy Mello
J.Friedman [Jansy Mello writes:...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... ] I'd say that /Kinbote/ often suggests that Gradus is an automaton or clockwork toy, and associates him with death (especially) in the last line.I must admit I haven't read /King, Queen, Knave/. Those similarities are interesting (though the Vanessa is hardly surprising).

JM: Dear Jerry, I remembered exchanges with you and Matt Roth about the word "trundling a wheelbarrow".I couldn't locate your comment directly, but the theme was "trundling=truckling" in Webster's dic. The exchanges can be found in the VN-Archives*. The association is not only with gardener/wheelbarrow but a Red Vanessa flitting by ( as "death harbingers").

btw: you altered the subject of my sentence, quoted above, in order to emphasize it was Kinbote, not VN, who established Gradus as Kinbote's automaton? In my opinion, Kinbote's madness impeded him to fully realize the implications of his analogy, although the words are always "his". The gardener in KQKn walked "mechanically," like one the automatons that were fabricated in the latter. It suggests this image was already present in VN's mind...

* From the Archives:
JM: In a recent message about Red Admiral and doom in KQK, two announced deaths were mentioned: the dog's and Martha's. The gardener had the dog killed and Martha got a chill on the day she'd planned to kill Dreyer, and died from pneumonia.
And yet, there was another death lurking by on that day: the driver's, in an accident with the Icarus.
In the Red Admiral scene he ( "chauffeur") was chatting with the gardener and creating moveable shadows with cigarette smoke.Dreyer survived.
The butterfly's presence was a curiously misdirected warning - if it represented a warning at all.
Also in Pale Fire, the intended victim was not John Shade but Judge Goldsworth. Or, according to Kinbote, it was he, King Charles II, the intended victim...
In both situations in which the Vanessa atalanta appears, we see a gardener trundling a barrow, like a clockwork toy. Those who died might have been victimized by "Fate" but, in the human scale, they were not the intended victims (VN's father was also shot by accident).
I wonder what kind of connection exists between a gardener and a butterfly.
23 January 2007

Don Johnson: "The quote...unearthed by the indefatigable Jansy is an informative gem in relation to PF. Here, as in PF, the Red Admiral appears to a harbinger of death (first--the dog Tom; second, Marta [rather than her husband, the intended victim]). This "mortality marker" is made even clearer in DN's translation...revisions clearly establish the immanency of death as signaled by the Red Admiral--just as it does in PF... VN apparently inserted the 1962 PF echoes into the 1968 KQKn English version.

JM: D.B.Johnson had praised my link bt Pale Fire and a Red Admiral in KQKn. And yet, it had been already mentioned by Alfred Appel (1970/71) when he asked: " That particular butterfly appears frequently in your own work, too. In Pale Fire[... ], the insect appears in King, Queen, Knave just after you've withdrawn the authorial omniscience..." Still, the point I wanted to make was not centered exclusively on the appearance of the butterfly but to the description of a gardener trundling a barrow and his automatic, mechanical way of moving in the same paragraph, close to the butterfly, February 11, 2007

A bonus insertion:
S.Klein: May Days PastDiary of a month gone.By John Derbyshire...
"My comments in last month's diary about Vladimir Putin's odd nasal obsession included a passing mention of the 19th-century Russian writer Nikolai Gogol [...] it is hard to find any other author who has described with such gusto smells, sneezes and snores. This or that hero comes into the story trundling, as it were, his nose in a wheelbarrow." 03 de Jun de 2008

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