NABOKV-L post 0007170, Mon, 25 Nov 2002 19:15:44 -0800

Fw: Andrew Brown on nun & chronology
Re: Andrew Brown on nun & chronology
----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew Brown
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2002 6:39 PM
Subject: Re: Andrew Brown on nun & chronology

Ms. Kunin,

Here's how I read this. It's the professor of physics, " a so-called Pink," who says claims "That sorry ruler is known to have escaped disguised as a nun."

Shade then states that he has it from Kinbote (pointing) that the nun story was a vulgar invention of the Extremists and their friends" to conceal their (the Extremist's) discomfiture. The truth according to Shade, who got it from Kinbote, is that the King escaped not as a "pale spinster" but as an athlete in scarlet.

So, a complete opposite: not pale spinster but red satyr considering the King's apparently insatiable antics in Zembla and Kinbote's multiple ping pong partners at Wordsmith. I think that Nabokov's intention in both the reference to a future nun "roommate" (whose I don't know, but you know my thoughts on this word choice) sitting with Hazel, and the second reference, in the commentary, to a fake nun, are both separate statements of about a certain tupe of marginal person -- non-sexual persons.

In the first case, with Hazel, her companion would naturally, to Shade, be a fellow non-participant in life's amatory games, and in the second case, the least probable disguise for a randy king (and a choice of disguise that would presumably be the most annoying to the exiled king who has to suffer the imputation of having resorted to it) would be that of a woman and a non-sexual woman at that.

What I think is most interesting in this couple of pages of commentary is 1. Shade admitting to having been said to resemble the "slapdash disheveled hag" in the cafeteria, and 2. the strange unease of "Good Netochka" who is singularly uncomfortable during this exchange, and who "hastily" interrupts talk about the king to say, irrelevantly, that the Goldsworths are having a wonderful time.

I think "Netochka" Natochdag is one of the most significant characters in the book. Note that he is not mentioned in the index.
----- Original Message -----
From: D. Barton Johnson
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2002 1:46 PM
Subject: Fw: Andrew Brown on nun & chronology

----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: Andrew Brown on nun & chronology

A challenge to those who believe that the roommate is Hazel's:
Do you see any significance in the nun who turns up in Kinbote's commentary to line 894 ("the widely circulated stuff about the nun") or any relationship between this nun and the roommate who has become one?

Andrew Brown's response:

As for the nun disguise rumor mentioned in the commentary and the future nun in the poem, the time frame doesn't lend itself to their being the same person. If an actual King Charles had escaped from Zembla disguised as a nun, he could not have arrived at Wordsmith in the form of a "future nun" while Hazel attended school.

Dear Mr Brown,

I did not mean to suggest that Charles had become Hazel's roommate (bizarre idea and as you say, chronologically impossible since Hazel's death precedes the revolution in Zembla), rather that the nun who turns up in the commentary is Kinbote/Shade's memory of the roommate/nun. To me it was interesting that Shade associates the nun with a feeling of discomfiture.

How do you interpret the second appearance of the nun in the commentary is what I am asking.

Carolyn Kunin