NABOKV-L post 0026537, Sat, 17 Oct 2015 15:52:51 +0300

Hurricane Lolita & Hazel Shade in Pale Fire
In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions Hurricane Lolita that swept from
Florida to Maine:

It was a year of Tempests: Hurricane
Lolita swept from Florida to Maine. (ll. 679-680)

Shade calls 1958 (the year of Lolita's first publication in America) "a year
of Tempests." In March of the previous year Shade's daughter Hazel (whose
name brings to mind Lolita's surname) committed suicide. In Canto Two of his
poem Shade, describing the fatal evening, mentions the same states:

A male hand traced from Florida to Maine
The curving arrows of Aeolian wars. (ll. 408-409)

Dolores Haze (in VN's novel, Lo's full name) is the daughter of Charlotte
Haze. The first name of Lolita's mother seems to hint at the young woman
with whom the hero of Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774) is in
love. Lolita's married name, Mrs. Richard F. Schiller, seems to hint at
Goethe's friend and colleague Friedrich Schiller. Lolita's mother dies soon
after she married Humbert Humbert (the novel's main character and narrator).
In Aschenputtel (Brothers Grimm's German version of the fairy tale about
Cinderella) the heroine asks her father (who had lost his first wife and
just married a woman with two daughters of her own) to bring her from the
city the first branch which knocks against his hat on his way home.
Cinderella's father gives her the branch from the hazel-bush. The girl
plants the branch on her mother's grave where it grows and becomes a
handsome tree. A little white bird comes to the tree and fulfils every wish
expressed by Cinderella. Birds always help Cinderella and, when she marries
the Prince, the pigeons peck out the eyes of her wicked and envious

In a variant of Lines 417-421 quoted by Kinbote in his Commentary Shade
quotes the lines from Pope's Essay on Man in which the blind beggar and
lunatic a king are mentioned:

I fled upstairs at the first quawk of jazz
And read a galley proof: 'Such verses as
"See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king"
Smack of a heartless age.' Then came your call

This is, of course, from Pope's Essay on Man. One knows not what to wonder
at more: Pope's not finding a monosyllable to replace "hero" (for example,
"man") so as to accommodate the definite article before the next word, or
Shade's replacing an admirable passage by the much flabbier final text. Or
was he afraid of offending an authentic king? In pondering the near past I
have never been able to ascertain retrospectively if he really had "guessed
my secret," as he once observed (see note to line 991
<> ).

Kinbote's secret is easy to guess. To realize that Shade, Kinbote and Gradus
exist only insofar as they represent three different aspects of V. Botkin,
the American scholar of Russian descent, is much more difficult. Poor Botkin
must have lost his mind after his daughter's death. But what is Hazel's
"real" name?

As I pointed out before, in VN's story Solus Rex (1940), PF's Russian
predecessor, hazel is an alcoholic beverage:

Exhausted by lengthy tension, harrowed by having been forced to wallow in
another's filth, and involuntarily staggered by the prosecutor's blast, the
luckless scholar [Dr. Onze] lost his nerve and, after a few incoherent
mumblings, suddenly started, in a new, hysterically clear voice, to tell how
one night in his youth, having drunk his first glass of hazel brandy, he
accepted to go with a classmate to a brothel, and how he didn't get there
only because he fainted in the street.

This, of course, reminds one of Chekhov's story Pripadok (The Nervous
Breakdown, 1888) written to honor the memory of Vsevolod Garshin, the writer
who committed suicide by jumping over the banisters. Because Garshin is the
author of Nadezhda Nikolaevna (1885), one is tempted to assume that Hazel's
real name is Nadezhda (which means "hope").

Alexey Sklyarenko

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