Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020906, Mon, 25 Oct 2010 17:48:07 -0400

Re: Pale Fire's omniscience (and italics)
I hadn't read Kinbote's note to line 403 as carefully as Simon did, or
remembered it as well.
Jansy is correct, the narrative voice does shift from first person to
third person omniscient in these italicized sections; but I don't see
that as anything greater than something needed in order to create the
synchronization device. Personally I see Kinbote's note as mainly
elucidating the use of the italics for this purpose. In particular the
passage beginning More headlights in the fog would otherwise be seen
as connecting too closely to the line Where headlights from afar /
Approached and grew... Kinbote's note makes clear that the second set
of headlights are to be seen as being experienced by Hazel. I guess I
missed that. All of the Hazel theme is seen, at least by me, as more
or less ex post facto speculation by Shade necessarily rendered in the
third person omniscient voice.


On Oct 25, 2010, at 3:52 PM, NABOKV-L wrote:

> I think italics are something to be wary of when regarding
> omniscience within the poem, especially
> since Kinbote reveals in the note to line 403, 'I have italicized
> the Hazel theme'.
> It is Kinbote himself indicating his presence in editing the poem,
> rather than Shade acknowledging an
> external all-knowing source.
> Furthermore, I believe Kinbote's exposition that he has italicized
> parts of the poem leads to
> questioning just how large his editorial presence has been. It
> appears that some of the other italics in
> the poem could well have been chosen by Kinbote to promote his
> reading of the poem.
> Finally, as the italics show, Kinbote is not afraid to modify the
> poem. Therefore, why did he not
> append his line 1000 onto the poem's end?
> Best,
> Simon Rowberry
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