NABOKV-L post 0007224, Wed, 4 Dec 2002 17:28:34 -0800

a woman or the nun PALE FIRE
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sergej Aksenov" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, December 04, 2002 1:05 PM
Subject: Resubmission: Re: Fw: a woman or the nun PALE FIRE

From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Sunday, December 01, 2002 1:35 PM
Subject: a woman or the nun

I don't know if it has been noted before (my apologies for the repetition
> if so), but I wonder if the rumour of the king escaping disguised as a
> can be a reference to the historic fact of Alexander Kerensky's (Russia'
> last prime minister deposed by Bolsheviks in 1917) escape from
> Â disguised as a woman.
> Sergej

>Dear Sergej

>Your suggestion reminds me that in American history there is also the
>little known incident  of Abraham Linkcoln arriving in DC after his
>election to the presidency disguised as a woman.

>But nun disguises appear to be popular (at least on the internet) among
>several classes of people: mobsters; people fleeing mobsters, drug
> Hollywood and British comedians and prostitutes. There are also those
>flagrant dragsters, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

>The disguise also figures in three operas: Wagner's Lohengrin, Schumann's
>Genoveva * and Rossini's Le Comte Ory.**

Dear Carolyn

I agree that the disguise as a nun or a woman seems a popular theme in
both low and high culture. My picking Kerensky's escape is probably no
more useful for understanding the "nun, Charles and Kinbote" case that you
are working on than, say, Lincoln's incident (who, by the way, seems not
escaping but arriving as a winner to the capital).

>I couldn't discern any links to Pale Fire in any of these. Do you?

No, I can't.

What strikes me about Kerensky, is a certain congruence of Charles and
Kerensky both 1) being the "sorry" rulers (contrary to Kinobte's assertion
of a glorious reign), 2) escaping the blood-thirsty revolutionists, and 3)
dismissing the widely circulated rumours of their disguises as nuns or
women (I am sorry for having called Kerensky's anecdote a historical fact;
but being an anecdote and a rumour only strengthens the connection,
t it?). Add to that the possibility of VN knowing the story from Kerensky
himself, as Alexey points out.

This Kinbote-Kerensky "connection" might be, no doubt, trivial,
or even imaginary, but it was, for a moment, entertaining.


On Monday, December 2, 2002, at 12:14 , D. Barton Johnson wrote:

----- Original Message -----
From: alex
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Sunday, December 01, 2002 2:07 PM
Subject: a bit of nonsense about the nun

Dear Pale Fire admirers,
the rumor of the king escaping disguised as a nun is no doubt a reference
to the widely-circulated rumors (merrily supported by the Soviet
propaganda) of Alexander Kerenski's escape from the Winter Palace in a
s disguise. Kerenski was a contradictory political figure, who was often
compared to a hysterical woman not only by his political opponents, but
also by other liberals, but the sense of historical justice compels me to
say that the bit about the nun is merely a rumor. Nabokov would know it
from Kerenski himself, who was deeply hurt by the persistency of those
rumors, especially in Russia.
Alexey  Â