EDNote: I agree with Brian T's point, below. I'll go further and say
that as Pale Fire is on one obvious level and at least a few
less obvious ones a novel about disputed authorship, appropriated
authorship, clandestine authorship and ghost writing, if nothing else
it pays tribute to the creative potentials arising from the Shakespeare
debates. If someone successfully (and persuasively) argues that the
entire text derives from Botkin's creativity, with no ghostly
interference on his creativity, that could be seen as a sign of
allegiance to Stratford's Shakespeare, since (in this case) Botkin
connects his name to "bodkin" and Hamlet and Shakespeare directly in
the text. Personally, I'm skeptical that there is such a definitive
final reading of Pale Fire. ~SB
On Sat, Jul 7, 2012 at 1:20 PM, Mary H. Efremov <email@example.com>
was another famous debate about authorship that VN did sign in on,
namely the Song of Igor's Campaign. He opted for calling it good
literature, and withheld an opinion whether it was a clever forgery or
the ' real thing".He also translated it,and that's all we need to know.
The pieces can be judged as they stand. The iliad is a great story-poem
even if we do not know Homer in detail or as a person.
While the Iliad is undoubtedly great no matter who its author
or authors may have been, this hasn't stopped countless readers from
(understandably) speculating on his--or to Samuel Butler and Robert
Graves, her--identity and personality. As Aristotle said, "All men by
nature desire to know." And the itch to know about the life of an
artistic genius, and to pinpoint its connections with his art, is one
of the most powerful. This healthy curiosity is one of the driving
forces behind NABOKV-L, for instance, and the vast number of
biographies that fill bookstores and libraries.
Were someone to tell one of the published Nabokovians here, "VN wrote
the books he wrote, and that's all we need to know," he might be
advised to duck.
Were the moderators of this list to enforce a ban on discussion of VN's
life, as opposed to his works, how many insights into those works
would be lost? Of course Lolita and Pale Fire are
great no matter who wrote them, and of course they could still be
appreciated by, say, a reader who thought a chimpanzee randomly typed
them out. But knowing more about a book's author often adds another
dimension to the reading experience. And the greater the work of art,
the more we want to know about its creator. At its best this kind of
inquiry can shed light on the work's composition and even meaning--and,
if we're lucky, the mystery of the creative process itself.
In some cases (as in Shakespeare's--or so an Oxfordian like me
believes), knowing the identity of the author can bring more of his
oeuvre to light.
his views on the Bard's identity may have been, Nabokov seems not to
have been immune to this universal itch. I imagine he did all he could
to learn as much as he could about the writer he named first among
those meriting the Russian word for genius: "[G]haynie is a term
brimming with a sort of throaty awe and is used only in the case of a
very small number of writers. Shakespeare, Milton, Pushkin, Tolstoy..."