NABOKV-L post 0021836, Thu, 21 Jul 2011 15:00:13 -0300

Re: On Shade's memory
G.Lipon: "I continue reciting Pale Fire...One thing which maybe doesn't come from the repeated recitations is the observation that the reader shouldn't trust entirely the accuracy of Shade's memory...I see that Shade never literally claims an ability of exact recall that lasts longer than an hour or two. It is the reader who generalizes that Shade's recall of events partake of that photographic perfection..." G.Lipon then mentions Shade's description of the school pantomime as not acurate, "but rather an exaggeration that the reader is supposed to see through. It is simply not believable, to me, that an elementary school teacher would cast a young child into a derogatory role based upon her plainness...Surely Shade is exaggerating and, either he or VN, wants us to know it. Why? Intensification is one of the key, most frequent qualities of aesthetic experience if general. Exaggeration is, of course, a form of intensification, itself frequently used in spontaneous narrative, especially among fisherman (common folklore).Shade is an intensified fictional figure who has a tendency to exaggerate."

JM: When I was six I was chosen to play the witch in the school pantomime, not the princess. I'd entered school in the mid-term and I knew that my school-friends were not really very friendly towards me, an unwanted and plain new comer (the wise teacher had the children elect who was playing what.). I must confess that I loved it and that I was a very convincing witch with a vengeance in the heart !
I think that Shade sometimes has a tendency to self-pity. He is also as plain as he is susceptible to supposed slights. However, I see your point about artistic intensification and hyperbole.
There are various types of memory ( when spontaneous recall or only recognition predominate). In old age retrograde memory is usually sharp, not the anterograde memory (the one related to recent events). Shade's childhood recollections could at times maintain the quality of a photographic perfection, although it seems to me that often he suffers from the more usual kind of remembrance, one that is distorted by emotional factors and blame external reality for its distortions (as in "Maybe some quirk in space/Has caused a fold or furrow to displace/ The fragile vista, the frame house between...).
btw: I'm outlining a very out-moded theory about memory and it is also subject to omissions and imprecisions.

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