NABOKV-L post 0018174, Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:03:18 -0300

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Re: THOUGHTS: Proof beyond ultimate proof--I mean,
plausibility argument (long)
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Jerry Friedman: Thus Shade's speculations at the end of Canto Four are also true, with the exception of one of his "commonsense" predictions [...] I'll turn to the second case: Nothing in Kinbote's apparatus is reliable or maybe even plausible. That's what I believe, though I'm not going to present the evidence in this long post. If I understand Matt Roth, Jansy Mello, and Joseph Aisenberg correctly, that's what they believe too, though otherwise they may disagree strongly with me.

JM: Kinbote on Saint Augustine and religious experience is, if not plausible, sincere. And yet, it remains possible to argue for your case after we accept that "nothing in Kinbote's apparatus is reliable."
Once we agree about this item, then the contradictions, between the end of Shade's poem and CK's commentaries, must favor John Shade's speculations - ie there might be no "exception of one of his 'commonsense' predictions ( "I’m reasonably sure that we survive/And that my darling somewhere is alive,/As I am reasonably sure that I/Shall wake at six tomorrow, on July/ The twenty-second, nineteen fifty-nine,...".)
After all, we have only Kinbote's words that Shade was killed on July 21st and followed the events he extracted from JS's cards.
John Shade, when he registered the July 21st date, was yawning while he considered evening lights, a Red Admiral, Sybil's shadow ( which he could discern in the garden), the neighbor's gardener and a clink-clonk noise (Cf. 989-992: "Where are you? In the garden. I can see/ Part of your shadow near the shagbark tree./.../ A dark Vanessa with a crimson band/ Wheels in the low sun, settles on the sand...")
In his commentaries Kinbote picked up Shade's twilight, butterfly, gardener and noises - but sent Sybil off to dine with friends, brought in Gradus and lured Shade away, with a promise of Tokay and his pocketful of cards.
If Shade was indeed murdered, why not suppose this might have taken place on July 22nd, instead of the 21st, thereby confirming Shade's metaphysical certainty*?

We also possess only Kinbote's own arrangement of the cards into Four Cantos, having a butterfly-shape and a missing 10000-line. Kinbote was careful to follow the dates JS set down on every fresh card: why should we believe in this kind of information and reject the others?








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*Please compare Shade's lines about his being certain he'd wake up at six..., and Eliot's epigraph, in TLSOAP: "S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse a persona che mai tornasse al mondo...' ('Dante Alighieri, La Commedia Divina: Inferno, Canto XXVII.61--66.): "If I thought that I were speaking to a soul/ Who someday might return to see the world,/ most certainly this flame would cease to flicker;/ but since no one, if I have heard the truth,/ ever returns alive from this deep pit,/ with no fear of dishonor I answer you'' ( transl.Mark Musa: internet source). The reader knows Dante will return from the deep pit and that the flame flickers.

(I'm disgustingly ignorant of everything else concerning Dante, so I don't know what the initial question had been, nor why Eliot chose these lines to disturb the universe with Lazarus rising from the dead... Hazel's "toilest" deserves attention,Dante's epigraph too?)


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