NABOKV-L post 0017834, Fri, 6 Mar 2009 22:50:15 -0800

Re: Pale Fire's (fatal?) Flaw
I can kind of see Kunin's idea. Not only was it in The Eye; a different but similar sort of delusion worked itself out in Despair, in which it's narrator Hermann Karlovich thinks that a bum he stumbles across is an exact lookalike of himself. By the end we find he's the only one in the world who can see the resemblance, and in re-reading we note a kind of hedging in Hermann's narration that should have clued us in all along. The difference between these and Pale Fire, I think, is that the solution to the "mysteries" are actually in the dramas themselves--there's no final recognition scene in Pale Fire. Does that mean that Clare Quilty is really Humbert Humbert? Although it's not like I haven't had similar ideas: such as that the world of Anti-terra, in Ada, is not a "real" place, even in the novel, but Van's folie a deux that he carefully maintains with Ada, but these kinds of speculations somehow never resolve themselves. I'm curious, what
would be the point of that sort of double-personality game--is it a post modern joke on readers who lose themselves in the illusion of discreet characters that simply derive from one brain, or is it just a fun stunt? Oh and this reminds of poor Hugh Person, in Transparent things, the sleepwalker who wakes up one night having unconsciously strangled his faithless wife, his repressed hostility acting out behind his own back so to speak. 

--- On Fri, 3/6/09, Carolyn Kunin <chaiselongue@EARTHLINK.NET> wrote:

From: Carolyn Kunin <chaiselongue@EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Pale Fire's (fatal?) Flaw
Date: Friday, March 6, 2009, 8:45 PM

On Mar 6, 2009, at 1:40 PM, Stan Kelly-Bootle wrote:
I’m sure this is all useful in understanding RLS’s novel with its drug-induced, graduatedpersonality changes in a single character. What I’m anxious to understand is its relevance toPale Fire. For here we find, in the text, Shade and Kinbote, as two distinct corporeal entities, two clearly delineated characters, both, at various points in the “surface plot,” interacting side by side, and going about their separate ways.

Dear Stan,

You have found the major flaw in Pale Fire. And it is a BIGGY - - in order to fool the reader into accepting Shade and Kinbote as " two distinct corporeal entities " he shows them in scenes in which they appear to interact in public.  I got this argument years ago on the list and Don Johnson came to my rescue by pointing out that Nabokov had done the same thing in his early (originally in Russian) novel The Eye. The narrator and the character Smurov appear as two DCEs but the reader is lead to the conclusion eventually that they are one person.

Thank you for the sweet marital offer, but I don't think I'm ready to tackle a mixed marriage at this rawther late stage of my life.

your friend,

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