Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017493, Wed, 17 Dec 2008 16:33:20 -0500

Re: QUERY: Bend Sinister poem?
SKB quoted the following from Timon:

ALCBiades: How came the noble Timon to this change?

TIMon: As the moon does, by wanting light to give;
But then renew I could not, like the moon;
There were no suns to borrow of.

MR: Funny that this should come up. I was just reading an essay-in-progress
by my friend, former student, and soon-to-be-co-author Tiffany DeRewal.
Tiffany has noticed several intriguing correspondences between PF and the
Introduction by H.J. Oliver that appears in the 1959 Arden edition of Timon.
Oliver specifically points to the passage Stan quotes above, as proof of a
single author theory. Oliver believes the passage, and others, show the
author's use of counterpoint, which Oliver says is the "dramatic principle
on which Timon of Athens is constructed." According to Oliver, only a theory
of single authorship can account for the various contrapuntal, mirror-like
figures that occur throughout the play--only a single consciousness could
have conceived and constructed all of the interconnected parts. The
contrapuntal elements "set off against each other the reactions of one man
to different situations, and the reactions of different men to the same
situation." This structure, Oliver points out, is similar to some "modern
novels" like Huxley's Point Counter Point. [Let me emphasize once again that
this is all Tiffany's insight, which I am passing on to the list. By the
way, is there any evidence that VN knew of Oliver's intro?]

The passage above, it seems to me, nicely illuminates Kinbote's situation.
Gerard De Vries has argued that Shade is associated with the sun (Kinbote
says his mother's name comes from Luke, light-giver) and Kinbote the moon.
Once his poet is gone, and especially once the commentary is finished,
Kinbote has no sun to reflect and so must be extinguished.

Matt Roth

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