Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017239, Fri, 31 Oct 2008 11:43:18 -0400

QUERY: Feedback sought on draft of Pale Fire Timeline
Jerry Friedman writes:

Hello, everyone. I've finally gotten around to revising
the /Pale Fire/ timeline at
<www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/friedman.htm>, and I've
added a section of speculation on the writing and
publication process. Before I send the new version to
Jeff Edmunds, does anyone have any comments or
suggestions on this part?

KP, cited at the end, is Kevin Pilon, author of the
only other PF chronology I know of.

The bit about the time of year when aspens turn is
explained earlier in the new version in a note that is,
I trust, not too skimpy.

Thank you in advance. The draft follows.

Jerry Friedman

In the first version of this chronology, I left out any discussion of Kinbote's writing in Cedarn because of the lack of definite dates. However, Bellino (2006) and Gwynn (2007) have attempted reconstructions in NABOKV-L. The following tentative and equivocal version draws on them.

Kinbote types up the poem. (This could happen in New Wye.)

Kinbote writes most of the Commentary and some of the Foreword, including the references to an amusement park. He writes note 12 before note 550 and probably writes note 230 before note 347 ("...as I have said in an earlier note, he never cared to refer to his dead child"). Quite possibly he writes the Commentary in the printed order or nearly so.

Kinbote sends Frank his manuscript, either just the poem or some or all of his Foreword and Commentary too.

A proofreader checks the text of the poem and makes a few minor corrections (FW).

Frank sends Kinbote the galley proofs. Kinbote revises them, adding his editorial material if he hadn't before.

Kinbote writes "My slip--change to sixty-first." (n. 167) and "(no, delete this craven 'perhaps')" (n. 920) either on the galley proofs or later on the page proofs, forgetting to circle these instructions to keep them from being typeset (Bellino 2006). (If he writes "my slip" on the galleys, they may well include the Foreword and Commentary; the other comments might be Kinbote's marginal or interlinear notes in his typescript, but a good reason for him to take the blame is that someone else has worked on what he's correcting.)

Frank acknowledges receipt of the corrected galleys with a note asking Kinbote to take responsibility for any errors in the Commentary (FW). He sends Kinbote the page proofs.

Kinbote makes changes to the Foreword and Commentary in the page proofs. His changes to the Foreword include the sentences about Frank's receipt of the galleys and request for a disclaimer. He fails to circle his instruction "Insert before a professional" (Bellino 2006). (FW).

Kinbote writes the cross-references in the Foreword and Commentary. At least one of them seems to be written after the note that contains it, since Kinbote says, "I have considered in my earlier note (I now see it is the note to line 171)...," as makes sense considering the many references to later notes. Bellino (2006) places the cross-references "perhaps" at the stage of correcting the page proofs.

Kinbote starts the Index. Bellino (2006) notes that an index is always written after the receipt of the page proofs, but Kinbote's index refers only to line numbers, not page numbers, so he could have written at least part of it earlier. Indeed he could have written a few of the Index entries--the Crown Jewels chase and Kobaltana, Igor II, and the Shadows--before anything else, as they don't refer to any note. (Neither does the entry on "marrowsky", but it must refer to n. 347.)

Kinbote writes n. 609-614. Since he describes the aspens as "withered", it must be the very end of September or sometime in October. His mention of "trying to coordinate these notes" could mean adding the cross-references. Maybe he writes the note late in his work on the Commentary, after he writes the Foreword, which would allow for the possibility that the variant is Shade's but would leave little time to produce the galleys and page proofs between aspen-turning and Oct. 19. Or maybe he writes the note as a change to the galleys or the page proofs.

On or shortly before Oct. 19
Kinbote stops work on the Index, leaving the entry for Zembla unfinished

Oct. 19
Kinbote finishes the Foreword. His changes include (and may be limited to) the date at the end. He may send the corrected proofs back to Frank--unless what we read is those proofs, found in his cabin.

Kinbote commits suicide (/Strong Opinions/, 74). [Correct date from KP.]

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