NABOKV-L post 0014082, Thu, 16 Nov 2006 17:01:12 -0500

Subject
JF responds to CK (Korean student in PF and Caspar the friendly
ghost)
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Date
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Carolyn Kunin wrote:

> Dear Andrew Brown,
>
> I have some answers for your questions. But in order for them to make
> sense you will have to at least temporarily accept the possibility that
> my reading of Pale Fire is not an aberrant one - - that Shade having
> suffered a cerebral stroke is taken over by an alternate personality,
> King Charles the Beloved, or Kinbote.
...

>> When you say that the Korean is ³very possibly² her half brother, which
>> ³her² do you refer to, Hazel or Sybil?
>
> By half-brother I mean that he is the possible fruit of Sylvia
> O'Donnell's brief "marriage" to an "Oriental prince." In my reading Disa
> is Kinbote's translation of Sybil into Zemblan, and both Sybil and Disa
> are idealizations.
...

Are you suggesting that Kinbote thinks Sybil got him his job at
Wordsmith? I'd have trouble believing that.

>> Is your claim that this student¹s name is ³probably Caspar² based on
>> your theory of the names of the other two biblical wizards or ³wise
men²
>> inferred in the book?
>
> Yes, but the names are given - - that is two out of three. The gardener
> is named Balthasar (check the archives for references - - can't find the
> place in the text),

N. 62, last paragraph. Kinbote calls him that, I don't know why.
Is "Balthasar, Prince of Loam" some kind of allusion? (That's
addressed to everyone, not just you, Carolyn.)

> the Pope is named Melchiorre (see comment to line
> 85), but the name of the third magus, Caspar, does not appear. And we
> know there is at least one name that can't be mentioned (see the index
> under "Shadows"). I did a simple equations B + M + X = the 3 magi and
> solved for X.
...

I still like to believe that the missing Caspar is the friendly
ghost--Aunt Maud's at least, Hazel's or John's for those who
believe in them.

And I too wonder about the Shadow whose name is too terrible
to mention. If there's the faintest trace of a clue, I've missed
it. Or is it just Kinbote's Ruritanian romanticizing?

> To avoid a
> long "proof" let me just say that I took all the references to Oriental
> princes, Asian potentates, padishahs and sons of padishahs and assumed
> they referred to one person - - or as it turned out, one man and his
> son, identified as the Korean student.

I think the "son of a padishah" is far more likely to be the
"young Iranian enrolled in our summer school" with whom Kinbote
plays chess (end of n. 1-4) than the Korean student. According to
dictionaries, a padishah is a Muslim king, specifically the Shah
of Iran, the Sultan of Turkey, or the Mughal emperor of India,
although Wikipedia says the title (as "padshah") has been used in
Afghanistan too. So it doesn't sound Korean, unless you're
combining the Korean student with the Iranian.

It's probably not relevant that Charles's tutor, Walter Campbell,
is "now in Iran" (Index), though I suppose we're free to imagine
that he went to one of the few remaining monarchies to associate
himself with a royal family, and even that he steered a son of
a ruler to Kinbote. (I've just been looking up the Pahlavi
family at Wikipedia. If Nabokov could give Khrushchev a line
he never said, could he have put Prince Hamid Reza Pahlavi
(1932-1992) at a non-existent college? Not that that would be
consistent with the possible connection to Sylvia.)

Jerry Friedman



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