Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020530, Fri, 13 Aug 2010 14:15:45 -0400

Re: Nabokov on Botkin,
In reference to GSL's request about the inner life of John Shade:

As to the lives of my characters, not all are grotesque and not all are
tragic: Fyodor in *The Gift* is blessed with a faithful love and an early
recognition of his genius; John Shade in *Pale Fire* leads an intense inner
existence, far removed from what you call a joke. You must be confusing me
with Dostoevski.

(p. 119, at the end of a BBC-2 interview with Nicholas Graham, *Strong

Hope that helps.


On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM, G S Lipon <glipon@innerlea.com> wrote:

> On Aug 10, 2010, at 5:08 PM, R. Rosenbaum wrote:
> And so I'd repeat VN's fairly non-ambiguous words...:
> "At the end of his 1962 diary, Nabokov drafted some phrases for possible
> interviews:
> 'I wonder if any reader will notice the following details: 1) that the
> nasty commentator is not an ex-King and not even Dr. Kinbote but Prof.
> Vseslav Botkin, a Russian and a madman …'"
> –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
> Just for the record,
> apparently Nabokov actually spoke these words, verbatum in fact;
> or handed as an index card with the words written out on it to an
> interviewer.
> I have a reference to an interview in the New York Herald Tribune Books
> section, June 17, 1962
> BOOKS AND AUTHORS By Maurice Dolbier. McCarthy's review, btw, ran in The
> New Republic, June 4, 1962.
> "It is jollier than the others," he said, "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 one has noted that my commentator committed
> suicide before completing the index to the book. The last entry has no
> numbered reference. . . . And even Mary McCarthy, who has discovered more
> in
> the book than most of its critics, had some difficulty in locating the
> source of its title, and made the mistake of searching for it in 'The
> Tempest.' It is from 'Timon of Athens.' The moon's an arrant thief she
> snatches her pale fire from the sun.' I hope that pointing out these things
> will perhaps help the reader to enjoy my novel better."
> –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
> What I'm currently searching about for though is where VN describes Shade
> as a "complex character", or of possessing a "rich inner life", or something
> of that ilk. Any help would be appreciated.
> *–GSL*
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