NABOKV-L post 0006827, Fri, 20 Sep 2002 10:43:16 -0700

Fw: Pale Fire questions for Mr Langridge
questions for Mr LangridgeI
----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2002 8:34 AM
Subject: questions for Mr Langridge

Dear Mr Langridge,

I wonder if you would indulge me: what is the evidence to the contrary regarding my theory that Shade and Kinbote are not separate entities?

I am only able to come up with are the following:

1) the obituaries written for Shade as reported by Kinbote;
2) Kinbote and Shade are present at the same time in many scenes reported by Kinbote.

The tributes Kinbote quotes as "obituaries" may actually be newspaper articles regarding the bizarre occurance of a local poet and professor having suffered a stroke and/or having gone insane and the subsequent disappearance of the manuscript that he was working on.

Even Kinbote doesn't report a funeral, isn't that odd?

The only scenes in which Kinbote and Shade are both present as actual persons are reported by Kinbote in his commentary, at least one of which is openly addressed to a doctor. Ditto references to Zembla as a real place. The reference in Shade's poem is literary.

It is not unusual in multiple personality disorder for the suppressed personality to be aware of (or to "spy on") the dominant personality. The dominant personality is usually totally unaware of the presence of the other (hence periods of blackout). I don't find anything in the novel that precludes this interpretation.

Why can't Kinbote describe Shade's house? Why are there no pictures of Samuel and Caroline Shade? Why was there no funeral? Who was that baby related to Aunt Maud? These questions require answers.

My main problem with Mr Boyd's solution is that without the evidence of "The Vane Sisters" he would have no argument. Would it have been fair of Nabokov to write a novel for an audience that only consisted of those who had read that story in The Hudson Review and Encounter some years previously? A story that was not available at the time in any other edition? That therefore had to have been read, understood and retained in the memory? I do not find that fair at all! There are references in Pale Fire to Sybil Vane, but they lead the reader to "The Picture of Dorian Gray" not to an obscure 1952 story.

My secondary problem with Mr Boyd's solution is that it fails to answer a rather basic question: what is the relationship of Kinbote and Shade? Surely they are not neighbors and intimate friends as Kinbote would have us believe. Mr Boyd's solution seems to accept this.

Carolyn Kunin