NABOKV-L post 0015522, Mon, 1 Oct 2007 23:41:47 -0300

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Re: THOUGHTS: Hazel Shade & Catskin/Catkins
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Concerning my [Query] about Kinbote's dictionary, perused in his Cedarn cave, Jerry Friedman wrote:
Now that you mention it, I'm sure you're right, referring to my supposition that Kinbote had transformed Shade's "frozen stillicide" into a figurative self-referential "snoopy eaves-dropping".
Thank you, JF. Kinobote's distortions seemed particularly destructive at this point, not only concerning Shade's musingly poetical verses, but also Hardy's ( I was unable to locate the equally poetic lines by Hardy ( begining with "frost"!), but I'm sure it has already been mentioned in the List.)

Under [Thoughts] Matt Roth informed us that he is "working on a (wildly unpopular) argument which posits an incestuous relationship between John Shade and his daughter Hazel...All of this evidence taken together indicates to me that Hazel is a Cinderella figure, and more specifically a Catskin figure...This relationship is echoed, btw, in VV's relationship to Bel in LATH. While VV is clearly Humbert-like, he is also like John Shade in many ways (his childhood fits, for example)."

JM: I found it difficult to follow the arguments about incest & cannibalism in Pale Fire, also I was not familiar with the "Catskin" version. It seems that the coverskin may vary from one country to another and we may find cats,donkeys and even bears-skins. The latter reminded me of Lucette ( M.R added in his note: Priscilla Meyer, I believe, argues that Hazel is in some sense the "fey child." (Source anyone?)) who "looked fey", was fondled by her father ( how did Uncle Dan die?), and who is often associated to furs and "Ursa/Bears", although the explicit reference in "Ada, or Ardors" to a Cinderella story calls in the shadowy maid Blanche, not refulgent Lucette.

And yet, I think this is a matter worth pursuing ( & of course it shall be " wildly unpopular!"), even through indirect routes.

The question of coverings and dresses made me remember "Transparent Things", through Hugh's strange words: "Ouvre ta robe Déjanire..." .
In the past I tried to find out more about these lines after following its history from old Hindu stories on contamination and burning poisoned robes. I was led me to Shelley and Musset, to their rendering of the incest theme.

Here is an extract from the article "Theater of Anxiety in Shelley's The Cenci and Musset's Lorenzaccio - Percy Shelley, Alfred de Musset Criticism, Wntr, 2000 by Remy Roussetzki ( I underlined certain sentences)
"Following the incest in The Cenci, which Shelley has us imagine happening in the cracks of representation, between Act II and Act III of the play, Beatrice Cenci appears mad on stage. Instead of being mangled and mute like Shakespeare's Lavinia after the rape in Titus Andronicus, a play Shelley admired, Beatrice's body is beautifully intact on the outside; but she is ravished inside her mind. She speaks of horrors, abundantly She offers to our synesthetic appreciation, not only her confused state of mind and "glued" imaginary body but the disgusting smells that "pollute" in her the "spirit of life," producing to view sensations which were till then unheard of in high tragedy: ... Le Vice, comme la robe de Dejanire, s'est-il si profondement incorpore a mes fibres, que je ne puisse plus repondre de ma langue et que l'air qui sort de mes levres se fasse ruffian malgre moi. (IV.v.225). (Vice, like Deianira's robe, has incorporated itself so deeply in the fibers of my being that I can no longer respond with my tongue and the air issuing from my lips becomes a rogue in spite of me.) Musset was fascinated by inner, psychic disorder at least as much as Shelley. Compared to contemporaneous versions of the Cenci saga, in fact only in Shelley's tragedy can we say that the incest destroys Beatrice's psyche at the core. We could not say this of Mary Shelley's Relation, for instance, or of Stendhal's version in the Chroniques Italiennes (1837) where both graphic and strictly objective details of violence surround the impossible description. The only thing we will know of the incestuous practices of old Count Cenci in The Cenci is that they have contaminated the soul of Beatrice and made her mad, indeed spiritually disordered, without inner articulation or delineation, her imaginary body, that is, her ego being dirty in the sense Mary Douglas provides for "dirt" as displacement: "matter out of place."

Good luck, Matt!

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