Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016238, Wed, 23 Apr 2008 14:12:58 -0400

THOUGHTS: Re: DN's remarks in NOL II
Happy Birthday to VN and many thanks to Yury Levin for unveiling another wonderful issue of NOL. Suellen's interview with Dmitri is full of interesting and enlightening moments. In particular, we have another iteration of VN's comments about the internal authorship question in PF. Recall that in January 98 DN wrote to the list with the following:

"When the speculation first began many years ago, I asked my father, during
a visit from Monza to Montreux, whether such theories might have any
substance. He laughed a characteristic, friendly laugh and said of course
not -- it would be just as implausible to say Shade and Kinbote had
invented each other."

In Suellen's interview, DN offers a significantly different (though similarly worded) recollection of, I presume, the same comment:

"I popped the question to my father. As closely as I can remember, his reply was 'It does not matter much; let’s just say that each invented the other.'"

Since it seems unlikely that DN's memory of the event has become clearer over time, I wonder if the difference here doesn't have more to do with DN's own evolving understanding of PF. As to the value of such recollections to interpreters of the novel, I might suggest that we are on much firmer ground if we stick to the text (and contexts) of the novel itself and resist the temptation to rely on Dmitri's (well-meaning, generous, much-appreciated) recollections. I say this as one who might be tempted to use DN's latest comments in favor of my own pet-theories.

Matt Roth

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