Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020791, Wed, 29 Sep 2010 12:44:01 -0300

Re: [NABOKOV-L] Botkin, with a PS to "bimanist"
RSGwynn: I think by "bimanist" Shade means simply that he holds his Gillette razor with both hands while shaving. I remember those "double-edge" razors, and they were not what is now called "ergonomically friendly." [...]
JM: Makes sense when we consider the "non-ergonomic" characteristic of this kind of razor-blade to understand "bimanist" as indicating the act of wielding the apparatus with both hands (alternatively, of course).
I don't know how familiar Nabokov would have been with the slang word "gilette" ("double-edge"), applied to bisexuality in some countries.

Matt Roth: forgot to add one more important connection between Shade and Kinbote/Botkin. While Kinbote imagines himself to be King Charles on the lam, Shade twice imagines himself as royalty in "Pale Fire" (l. 605 & l.894). In the second of these (Sit like a king there, and like Marat bleed) he uses a dissociated perspective to imagine himself both as a king and as the victim of an assassin--the exact scenario envisioned by Kinbote. Surely VN wanted us to notice the coincidence. We then must ask why, and to what end.
JM: Fascinating observation about the "coincidence" when Shade, after imagining himself as royalty, dissociates the perspective ( unlike what takes place in "Despair," but a comparison may come in useful, considering Shade's "splits" ...), to find himself simultaneously as king and victim ( particularly Marat, who suffered from psoriasis and collected butterflies). And yet, what kind of royalty did Shade have in mind and "why, and to what end" (besides the parallel which you pointed out)

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