Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020900, Sat, 23 Oct 2010 20:17:52 -0400

Re: Pale Fire's omniscience
Sorry, I don't see any omniscience.
The italics in general seem to be used simply as a way of setting of a
block of text from the surrounding text without any pattern that I can
discern, except, I'll grant you, throughout the TV sequence where it
does seem pretty clear to serve to indicate that the text is a
projection of Shade's imagination since, as you point out, they
describe events that Shade could not have knowledge-of; except for the
passage beginning, More headlights in the fog, which can't be
logically deduced to reside solely in Shade's imagination. In this
case the italics are, I assume, intended to convey that sense of
unreality. Why? perhaps just to blur the line between reality and


On Oct 23, 2010, at 3:43 PM, Jansy wrote:

> Dear List,
> While I was trying to locate PF's verses "man's life as commentary,"
> I realized that, once in a while, the poem admits an "omniscient
> narrator" perspective, or an external intrusion.
> Kinbote acknowledges his "hearsay" evidence (when he relies on Jane
> Dean's notes, for example). In Shade's poem they are marked by
> "italics." (when he can know what Hazel said to the busdriver, or
> how the watchman came from his shack to rescue her, side by side
> with what describes dialogues heard on the TV or read the
> inscription on a bark).
> I don't know if there are other instances, similar to these. Nor if
> the use of "italics" is indicative of various other types of warning
> signals. Any ideas?
> 1. Life is a message scribbled in the dark.
> 2. He took one look at her, / And shot a death ray at well-meaning
> Jane.
> 3. "Sure you don’t mind?/ I’ll catch the Exton plane, because you
> know / If I don’t come by midnight with the dough —"
> 4. More headlights in the fog. There was no sense/ In window-
> rubbing: only some white fence / And the reflector poles passed by
> unmasked.
> 5. "I think," she said,/ "I’ll get off here." "It’s only
> Lochanhead." / "Yes, that’s okay." Gripping the stang, she peered/
> 460 At ghostly trees. Bus stopped. Bus disappeared.
> 6. Out of his lakeside shack/ A watchman, Father Time, all gray
> and bent, / Emerged with his uneasy dog and went / Along the reedy
> bank. He came too late.
> 7. Man’s life as commentary to abstruse / Unfinished poem
> Search the archive Contact the Editors Visit "Nabokov Online Journal"
> Visit Zembla View Nabokv-L Policies Manage subscription options
> All private editorial communications, without exception, are read by
> both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/