NABOKV-L post 0015537, Wed, 3 Oct 2007 15:18:53 -0400

THOUGHTS re: Kinbote's discipline, toothwort, cinderella
[Matt Roth responds on several recent fronts. -- SES]

Alexey asked: Is Kinbote a Professor of Russian? The head of the department
to which Kinbote belongs is Prof. Nattochdag, not Prof. Pnin, the head of
the Russian department.

MR: No, a thousand times no! Kinbote does not teach Russian. I have seen
this mistake in at least two other published articles, as well. I quote
from Kinbote's note to line 691, where Sylvia O'Donnell addresses Kinbote:
"I'm sure you'll like it up there [at Wordsmith] though I wish I could
figure out why anybody should be so keen on teaching Zemblan." That of
course does not answer the question of what Kinbote/Botkin really teaches,
but it's not Russian or English. I think most speculation has pointed to his
being part of a Scandinavian Studies dept., no?


Thanks to Brian Boyd and Jerry Friedman for pointing out what I obviously
forgot about the different varieties of toothwort. Since the association
between toothwort and Hazel would obviously benefit Brian's theory, I will
not argue with his decision to dismiss the connection. (Though I should add
that some have made certain assertions regarding the importance of the
bohemian waxwing even though "the waxwing slain" was clearly a cedar


One Cinderella connection that I forgot to add. The poet and sculptor Arnor
goes all around Zembla with his porcelain cup and glass slipper until he
find his perfect model, Fleur de Fyler. Brian Boyd, I believe in a follow-up
article to his book, establishes a close connection between Fleur and Hazel.

I should also add that I don't think that there is hard evidence within PF
to say that there was actual active incest between Shade and Hazel--just
that the shadow of incestuous desire darkens their relationship. It may be
that Shade's alleged affair with his student served as his outlet for those
desires. (Why do all the critics act like this affair doesn't exist?? Are
there any critical articles that address this fairly significant narrative

"The Toothwort White haunted our woods in May"

"do you mean, John, you really don't have a mental or visceral picture of
that stunning blonde in the black leotard who haunts Lit. 202?"


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