NABOKV-L post 0018525, Mon, 17 Aug 2009 21:48:39 -0300

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Re: Driving in the Snow:Chemical Reagent
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JM: "I wonder why he said "chemical reagent," since a fall would only entail mechanical, not chemical, consequences. Unless...? "
MR: "My thought is that Nabokov is being precise here in making Kinbote imprecise. According to Webster's 2nd, a chemical reagent is "any substance which, because it takes part in certain reactions, is used in detecting, examining, or measuring other substances, in preparing material, in developing photographs, etc." [...] we might reverse Kinbote's notion and say that Kinbote himself is the substance and the Dante-esque incident of the Shades stuck in the ice is the reagent..."

JM: Fascinating posting ( for the sake of briefness I only repeat the items I'll here tentatively explore) with the suggestion that VN's choice of the word "reagent" serves as a ploy, one that will transform the first encounter bt. Shade and Kinbote into something else: it would announce, through Kinbote's "fall", his emergence ( intromission) and subsequent control over the development of the picture.

I think it was Aisenberg who pointed out the word "catalyst", and played with quantic "butt-erfly effect" (as I did when I selected the verb "entail").
We know that a "reaction" is that which occurs in response to a specific factor, and in a clearly established causal chain.
A catalyst, in lieu of a "chemical reagent", though, would indicate a non-essential, additional and with a restricted participation in the reaction. If so, an additional twist may be added to MR's hypothesis, ie, that Shade's original poem is totally free from Kinbote's presence and influence - but not the commentary which surrounds it and, supposedly, hastens its visibility.

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