Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0018281, Fri, 1 May 2009 12:53:08 -0400

Re: THOUGHTS: MR to JF on the NOJ article
MR responding to a few of Jerry's always thoughtful points:

JF: "Matt and Tiffany point out that Hazel's ghostly influence doesn't
explain the coincidence of Shade's clockwork toy and Kinbote's gardener, but
Shadean theories don't explain it any better than the "straightforward"
Kinbote-is-Botkin theory. If the toy and the person are both "real", then
the coincidence is beyond any characters' control; if not, Kinbote could
have made up the toy or the gardener or both, or Shade could have made up at
least the gardener's wheelbarrow as a private reminiscence of his toy."

MR: It's true that it is Kinbote who tells us that the tin boy was black,
but it does seem to me that the toy, via its presence in the poem, has a
greater claim on reality than Kinbote's black gardener. In our scenario,
Shade's subconscious has projected the black tin boy onto the person
trundling the empty barrow down the lane, whoever that really was. (May I
repeat here that "empty barrow," in another context, means "empty grave"?)

JF: "But I also see important differences between Shade and Bourne."

MR: We did not try to make the case that Shade and Bourne had exactly the
same experience. VN is famous for his ability to reconstitute and recombine
various elements from history and literature, but he always puts his own
spin on things. Our point about the fits was that both Bourne and Shade, as
youngsters, had spells where they lost consciousness, and in Bourne's fit
that you reference, he, like Shade, lost consciousness while still,
somewhere inside himself, remaining awake. We see a similarity there.

JF: "Matt and Tiffany quote Myers's theory that somnambulism can develop
into a secondary personality. But in Shade's sleepwalking as well as in his
childhood fits and near-death vision, there's no trace of anything

MR: True enough. Kinbote is accounted for elsewhere. The important thing,
to us, was how the somnambulism and other persistent images of doubling that
occur throughout the poem establish the instability of Shade's identity.


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