VN is quoted as saying:

“And even Mary McCarthy, who has discovered  more of the books* than most of its critics, had some difficulty in locating  the source of its title, and made the mistake of searching for it in  Shakespeare's 'The Tempest.' It is from 'Timon of Athens.' “

* Is ‘books’ a typo for ‘book’ or did VN say something like ‘more of the book’s symboliism/allusions?’

Yet in her 1962 (note the date) Introductory Essay to PF  (added to the 1991 Penguin edition) McCarthy DOES identify the title’s source and, after quoting the FAMOUS five lines from Timon of Athens (Act IV sc 3), she expands on the CENTRALITY to PF of this Shakespearean mirror-as-thief theme. She writes:

“Pale Fire itself circles like a moth, or a moon, around Shakespeare’s mighty flame.”

VN may have  missed or misread MM’s ref to The Tempest?

“... Prospero of The Tempest pops in and out of the commentary, like a Fata Morgana, to MISLEAD THE READER INTO LOOKING FOR ‘PALE FIRE’ IN SHAKESPEARE’S SWAN SONG. [my caps, of course] It’s NOT there, but the Tempest is in Pale Fire.”

I’ve not yet checked on any earlier versions of MM’s essay. Could she have modified them as a result of VN’s criticism? We would need some reliable dates. I’VE JUST SEEN A POSTING SUGGESTING THAT MM DID INDEED REVISE CIRCA 1971.
If so, it’s rather shoddy scholarship since she maintains © 1962 against her revised version in the Penguin 1991 ed.

Has anyone noted the link from WAXWING to the Dedalus/Icarus myth? (Hard for me to miss as I’m re-reading VN on JJ’s Ulysses) Failed Flights of Fancy, Jansy ;=) Why not add this link to the 90% of McCarthy’s symbols/allusions to which VN disowned paternity?

We must now ponder VN’s assertion that Botkin/Kinbote’s proffered botanical data is flawed! Flawed by VN, of course, who knows his onions & trees -- hence deliberately so — as a clue which we all seem to have misread? Interestingly, Joyce plays this trick in Ulysses (pt One ch 2) in the scene between Stephen Dedalus (Telemachus) and Headmaster Deasy (a dumb, pompous Nestor). Joyce has Deasy dogmatically mis-stating/reversing arcane historical facts, even when the truth would better support his agenda! VN misses these subtleties, noting merely that “Deasy is full of vicious political cliches ...” Still, VN’s critical methodology (intense, energetic attention to detail — every step of Bloomsday literally MAPPED!) is surely a guide to how we should tackle Pale Fire. Correction: the Morris essay (Rorty and the two BBs), JF’s timeline, JM’s word-maps, CK’s MPD, and all the recent co-theorizing ARE combining in a direction that would please VN’s shade?

PS: CHARLES: Re-Elizabethan ‘bawdy’ WILL, we must not start seeing genitalia EVERY time a WILL is mentioned! Context is the clue — with both deliberate and accidental ambiguity ever lurking. Similar examples in the Hebrew  Testament: FEET as euphemism for genitals; KNOW meaning SHAG (via CARNAL knowledge)!” (If you knew Suzie as I’ve known Suzie etc) And why the need to verify from Partridge what all self-respecting Elizabethan scholars have known for ages? Partridge is a grand source on global slang BUT his sources on Shakespearean ‘bawdy’ were scholars such as A L Rowse who lived and breathed the Bard’s every word.

On 11/11/06 09:22, "A. Bouazza" <mushtary@YAHOO.COM> wrote:

If I am not mistaken, Donald B. Johnson attempted to prove that Kinbote is Botkin in his "The Index of Refraction in PALE FIRE", Worlds in Regression: Some Novels of Vladimir Nabokov, pp. 60-77 (Ardis 1985).
A. Bouazza.
-----Original Message-----
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU]On Behalf Of Chaswe@AOL.COM
Sent: 10 November 2006 05:19
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Botkin(e). Modest Proposal

This is probably a very naive question, but what is the internal evidence in PF that the nasty commentator is Botkin, a Russian madman, not Kinbote, a Zemblan madman?  Is not Botkin, or Botkine, a mirror-image of Kinbote? Is VN being reliable here?  I certainly failed to notice Botkin's authorship in reading PF several times after first buying the paperback in 1964.  But I'm used to being called dense.
Mary McCarthy's failure to uncover Timon of Athens is slightly deplorable, of course.
Discoveries in a work of literature have to be a surprise to many, including its author. This is a feature of what Robert Graves called the proleptic nature of literary creation, and Koestler applied this to all forms of sudden creative insight. A burr, or piece of fluff, which has lodged in memory since I read it many years ago was the comment, made I think by a little girl, and embryonic authoress: "How can I know what I mean until I see what I say?"
Charles HW
In a message dated 09/11/2006 17:57:31 GMT Standard Time, NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU writes:
Here the poet is revealed by his poetry; the commentator by
> his
> commentary. ['Pale Fire'] is jollier than the other [novels], and it is
> full
> of plums that I keep hoping somebody will find. For instance, the nasty
> commentator is not an ex-King of Zembla nor is he professor Kinbote. He
> is
> professor Botkin, or Botkine, a Russian and a madman. His commentary has
> a
> number of notes dealing with entomology, ornithology, and botany. The
> reviewers have said that I worked my favorite subjects into this novel.
> What
> they have not discovered is that Botkin knows nothing about them, and
> all
> his notes are frightfully erroneous.... No onehas noted that my
> comment ator
> committed suicide before completing the index to the book.... The last
> entry
> has no numbered reference.... And even Mary McCarthy, who has discovered
> more of the books than most of its critics, had some difficulty in
> locating
> the source of its title, and made the mistake of searching for it in
> Shakespeare's 'The Tempest.' It is from 'Timon of Athens.'

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