Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0018183, Fri, 17 Apr 2009 10:10:27 -0400

THOUGHTS: Gunshots & MPD, Suspicious Supernaturalism
Recently, I suggested that the gunshot that killed Shade might be related to
the gunshot Ansel Bourne heard when he shifted from one personality to
another. I recently came upon another case--that of a Charles
Brewin--documented by the Society of Psychical Research in which the same
auditory effect supposedly accompanied the transition of a person out of a
fugue state and back into his original personality. These accounts of Bourne
and Brewin are found together here:


Thanks to JA and JF for their interesting colloquy on Pale Fire. All very
insightful and informative. Part of their discussion brought me back to the
problem of the supernatural as it occurs in the book. I am curious how
others comprehend the poltergeist events in Kinbote's note to line 230,
supposedly related to him (in astonishing detail) by Jane Provost, Shade's
former secretary. It seems to me that we have a few choices to make
regarding this material.

1. We can accept that it all happened as reported. In this case, we have to
accept a fictional world in which there exist real poltergeists who can
throw dishes and move dictionary stands and zoom dog baskets down the hall.
And we have to accept that John & Sybil witnessed these events and accepted
that they were "an outward extension or expulsion of insanity" (Hazel's).
(Btw, I agree with Kinbote that it doesn't make much sense, and even seems
cruel, for them to blame Hazel.)

2. We can (along with Kinbote, I think) believe that John & Sybil were
tricked by Hazel into thinking that supernatural events were afoot, when in
fact Hazel was responsible.

3. We can believe that Kinbote made the whole thing up. But why?

Any other options? I most often find myself voting for a combination of 2 &

Matt Roth

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/