Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017189, Tue, 14 Oct 2008 15:24:13 -0200

Pale Fire paper
Jerry Friedman: "Forward" for "foreword" is a common spelling error[...] I doubt that anything about Kinbote's Foreword particularly
impels this error.

JM: I was suggesting a connection bt. Kinbote and his invention, Gradus. A written text may have a "suggestive" effect that strikes readers in a particular manner. Like Jensen's "Gradiva", Gradus is stealthily moving forward with an "aggr-essive" intent. Kinbote wants Gradus to coincide with Shade's penning of his poem. Such a "foreword thrust" is a dominant feature in Pale Fire. Gradus' ghostly reality is manifest in CK's last lines (before the Index - and when was it inserted?): "But whatever happens, wherever the scene is laid, somebody, somewhere, will quietly set out — somebody has already set out, somebody still rather far away is buying a ticket, is boarding a bus, a ship, a plane, has landed, is walking toward a million photographers, and presently he will ring at my door — a bigger, more respectable, more competent Gradus."

You are earnestly hoping that "some people got the o with the Hungarian 'long umlaut'[ Cf. SKB: note that o: stands here for ‘o’ with the Hungarian umlaut] but I don't get your "long" point. I hope I understood your former reference to a "symbolic reading", though, brought up right after you spoke of "overlapping" images/sentences! I greatly enjoyed your observations.
Do you think that Nabokov, instead of always making them explicit, favored "impending metaphors"? Like a kind of :
"when I confront you with overlapping visions, it is your task to find your own metaphors to render them in words"?

SK-Bootle: I always took ‘The Big Maybe’ to refer to ‘Life after Death’ rather than Death itself [...] ... there’s no IF in Death. But the great ‘Hereinafter’ mystery surely persists as the dominant theme in human ruminations [...] Even for devout Zemblan Catholics like Kinbote, or Danish/Elizabethan Christians like Hamlet [ Peut-être ou ne pas peut-être, c’est pas la question,SK-B], the Afterlife can be truly terrifying. I also love Fitzgerald’s version of Omar Khayyam’s [...] Thou wilt not with Predestination round/ Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

JM: Kinbote ( in Humbert's case this is clearly stated by him) expressed their hellish fears directly and could not believe in a "felix culpa" nor hope for "salvation", although they kept their faith in an extraneous "punishment". They seem predestined to live in the worst of the impossible worlds.

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