NABOKV-L post 0015597, Thu, 18 Oct 2007 21:27:21 -0700

Subject
Re: She lived to hear the next babe cry
Date
Body


Brian Boyd wrote:


> Despite hardly knowing her, he invites the “stunning blonde in the black leotards who haunts Lit. 202” (a piece of

> standard male joshing that would be extremely unlikely were there in fact an amatory relationship between Shade and

> the student),



Only if Professor Hurley knew about the relationship.


> “to a little party for the Shades with the express purpose of refuting those rumors,”

[...]
> If they leave soon after she turns up “very late” (presumably the Shades have humored him by staying until the other

> guest arrives)


I don't think we can presume that. I'd guess that any time between the beginning of the meal and the dessert (zucchini bread?), or even a somewhat after the end, qualifies as "very late" to arrive and "very early" to leave. So another possibility is that the Shades, knowing about the rumors (or their truth), left as soon as they decently could (or sooner) once they saw who the other guest was.



> what does that indicate but the spectacular ineptitude of Kinbote’s social sensitivity and the spectacular
> misguidedness of his social scheming, clinched by the fact that after ten minutes “I had the task of entertaining the
> young lady with phonograph records far into the night when at last she rang up somebody to accompany her to a

> ‘diner’ in Dulwich”?


But what does it indicate that Shade mentions the young woman in his poem? Unfortunately I can't answer that--he could have just chosen a convenient model for a beautiful woman when he wanted to mention one.


But I don't think I can agree with you that "THE STABILITY OF THE SHADE HOUSEHOLD, APART FROM AND EVEN DESPITE HAZEL'S SUICIDE, IS ESSENTIAL TO THAT NOVEL."


If the essence of the novel is "the beyond", specifically Shade's survival, then an affair on his part shows that one doesn't have to be a saint to live after death--which we might have concluded if we saw the survival of only Aunt Maud and (you convinced me) Hazel, who appear to have led much less sinful lives (from a Puritan point of view).


...


MY COMMENT DOES NOT DEPEND ON MY PARTICULAR READING (THE "SYNTHETIC" RE-READING AS I CALLED IT). IT SIMPLY DEPENDS ON THE OBVIOUS ELEMENTS OF THE PLOT. SHADE LOVES HIS BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND FEELS DESPAIR THAT HIS PHYSICALLY AND EVEN EMOTIONALLY UNATTRACTIVE DAUGHTER HAD SUCH AN UNHAPPY AND UNPARTENERED LIFE THAT SHE COMMITS SUICIDE. THE VALUE OF SHADE'S POEM, HIS FEELINGS, SYBIL'S FEELINGS, AND HAZEL'S FEELINGS BECOMES DISASTROUSLY MUDDIED.




I don't see this either. Neither parent's feelings toward their daughter lose their value (they may even become more complex) if Shade cheated on his wife. As for Hazel's feelings, we can only speculate on what she might have known or felt in life or the afterlife.



But this is really a pretext for me to apologize for not giving you credit when I posted my ideas on the list. My ideas, which might also be called a synthetic re-rereading, have strong resemblances what you say in the first few pages of the "Creator and Creature" section of /Nabokov's Pale Fire/. That book had been published, and I think I'd read it, by the time I posted here; I can't even say how much those pages influenced what I wrote. I came at the ideas from a very different angle and made some different connections with them, but that (and possible reasons that I doubt would interest anyone but me) are no excuse for overlooking your discovery.


(And while I'm at it, I should have remembered that you pointed out that "unicursal bicircular quartic" is in Webster's Second.)


Contritely,

Jerry Friedman







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