----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 9:06 PM
Subject: Poor Hazel - reply to Mr Bolt
Dear Mr Bolt,
Yes, Hazel's suicide is at the center
of Shade's poem, but that does not make it the center of the book. I don't think
anyone has found that precise point yet.
Why assume that Hazel's friends
are outcasts? that the Korean student is a loser? that the girl who becomes a
nun is a virgin? that virgins are pathetic? Could Shade perhaps want to give his
readers that impression? Why would he want to do that?
That "Korean boy"
gets invited to that rather exclusive party to celebrate Shade's last birthday
along with a celebrated American author and a senator. He must have something
going for him. And there's nothing about a person who becomes a nun that in
itself is necessarily pathetic. And you don't have to be a virgin to become a
My own opinion, clever reading if you will, is that her
father would like us to think that her friends are pathetic outcasts, but there
really is no evidence that this is the case.
There are a number of ugly
women who have been successful - in love among other things. Mrs Roosevelt comes
to mind; the fictional giantess, Liesl, in Robertson Davies' "Fifth
Business" comes to mind, and the non-fictional Pancho Barnes (read her biography
"The Happy Bottom Riding Club" for a very good time). There are many others, I
An intelligent young woman with "great force of personality,"
who is greatly loved by her doting mother and father, does not commit suicide
because she is ugly. No amount of empathy makes this believable.
Shade wishes the reader to accept it, but the more I read Pale Fire, the less I
trust Mr Shade.
p.s. What's your
objection to a clever reading or two? "I do not write for such dull elves as
have not a great deal of ingenuity themselves." That's Jane Austen (another of
those outcast virgins). So you continue to read with empathy, I have no
objection, but Lo and I reserve the right to skate whenever and wherever we