NABOKV-L post 0014100, Fri, 17 Nov 2006 22:11:11 +0000

Re: Botkin(e). Modest Proposal
VN is quoted as saying:

³And even Mary McCarthy, who has discovered more of the books* than most of
its critics, had some difficulty in locating the source of its title, and
made the mistake of searching for it in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest.' It is
from 'Timon of Athens.' ³

* Is Œbooks¹ a typo for Œbook¹ or did VN say something like Œmore of the
book¹s symboliism/allusions?¹
Yet in her 1962 (note the date) Introductory Essay to PF (added to the 1991
Penguin edition) McCarthy DOES identify the title¹s source and, after
quoting the FAMOUS five lines from Timon of Athens (Act IV sc 3), she
expands on the CENTRALITY to PF of this Shakespearean mirror-as-thief theme.
She writes:

³Pale Fire itself circles like a moth, or a moon, around Shakespeare¹s
mighty flame.²

VN may have missed or misread MM¹s ref to The Tempest?

³... Prospero of The Tempest pops in and out of the commentary, like a Fata
SWAN SONG. [my caps, of course] It¹s NOT there, but the Tempest is in Pale

I¹ve not yet checked on any earlier versions of MM¹s essay. Could she have
modified them as a result of VN¹s criticism? We would need some reliable
If so, it¹s rather shoddy scholarship since she maintains © 1962 against her
revised version in the Penguin 1991 ed.

Has anyone noted the link from WAXWING to the Dedalus/Icarus myth? (Hard for
me to miss as I¹m re-reading VN on JJ¹s Ulysses) Failed Flights of Fancy,
Jansy ;=) Why not add this link to the 90% of McCarthy¹s symbols/allusions
to which VN disowned paternity?

We must now ponder VN¹s assertion that Botkin/Kinbote¹s proffered botanical
data is flawed! Flawed by VN, of course, who knows his onions & trees --
hence deliberately so ‹ as a clue which we all seem to have misread?
Interestingly, Joyce plays this trick in Ulysses (pt One ch 2) in the scene
between Stephen Dedalus (Telemachus) and Headmaster Deasy (a dumb, pompous
Nestor). Joyce has Deasy dogmatically mis-stating/reversing arcane
historical facts, even when the truth would better support his agenda! VN
misses these subtleties, noting merely that ³Deasy is full of vicious
political cliches ...² Still, VN¹s critical methodology (intense, energetic
attention to detail ‹ every step of Bloomsday literally MAPPED!) is surely a
guide to how we should tackle Pale Fire. Correction: the Morris essay (Rorty
and the two BBs), JF¹s timeline, JM¹s word-maps, CK¹s MPD, and all the
recent co-theorizing ARE combining in a direction that would please VN¹s

PS: CHARLES: Re-Elizabethan Œbawdy¹ WILL, we must not start seeing genitalia
EVERY time a WILL is mentioned! Context is the clue ‹ with both deliberate
and accidental ambiguity ever lurking. Similar examples in the Hebrew
Testament: FEET as euphemism for genitals; KNOW meaning SHAG (via CARNAL
knowledge)!² (If you knew Suzie as I¹ve known Suzie etc) And why the need to
verify from Partridge what all self-respecting Elizabethan scholars have
known for ages? Partridge is a grand source on global slang BUT his sources
on Shakespearean Œbawdy¹ were scholars such as A L Rowse who lived and
breathed the Bard¹s every word.

On 11/11/06 09:22, "A. Bouazza" <mushtary@YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> If I am not mistaken, Donald B. Johnson attempted to prove that Kinbote is
> Botkin in his "The Index of Refraction in PALE FIRE", Worlds in Regression:
> Some Novels of Vladimir Nabokov, pp. 60-77 (Ardis 1985).
> A. Bouazza.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU]On Behalf Of
>> Chaswe@AOL.COM
>> Sent: 10 November 2006 05:19
>> Subject: [NABOKV-L] Botkin(e). Modest Proposal
>> This is probably a very naive question, but what is the internal evidence in
>> PF that the nasty commentator is Botkin, a Russian madman, not Kinbote, a
>> Zemblan madman? Is not Botkin, or Botkine, a mirror-image of Kinbote? Is VN
>> being reliable here? I certainly failed to notice Botkin's authorship in
>> reading PF several times after first buying the paperback in 1964. But I'm
>> used to being called dense.
>> Mary McCarthy's failure to uncover Timon of Athens is slightly deplorable, of
>> course.
>> Discoveries in a work of literature have to be a surprise to many, including
>> its author. This is a feature of what Robert Graves called the proleptic
>> nature of literary creation, and Koestler applied this to all forms of sudden
>> creative insight. A burr, or piece of fluff, which has lodged in memory since
>> I read it many years ago was the comment, made I think by a little girl, and
>> embryonic authoress: "How can I know what I mean until I see what I say?"
>> //snip
>> Charles HW
>> In a message dated 09/11/2006 17:57:31 GMT Standard Time,
>>> Here the poet is revealed by his poetry; the commentator by
>>>> > his
>>>> > commentary. ['Pale Fire'] is jollier than the other [novels], and it is
>>>> > full
>>>> > of plums that I keep hoping somebody will find. For instance, the nasty
>>>> > commentator is not an ex-King of Zembla nor is he professor Kinbote. He
>>>> > is
>>>> > professor Botkin, or Botkine, a Russian and a madman. His commentary has
>>>> > a
>>>> > number of notes dealing with entomology, ornithology, and botany. The
>>>> > reviewers have said that I worked my favorite subjects into this novel.
>>>> > What
>>>> > they have not discovered is that Botkin knows nothing about them, and
>>>> > all
>>>> > his notes are frightfully erroneous.... No onehas noted that my
>>>> > comment ator
>>>> > committed suicide before completing the index to the book.... The last
>>>> > entry
>>>> > has no numbered reference.... And even Mary McCarthy, who has discovered
>>>> >
>>>> > more of the books than most of its critics, had some difficulty in
>>>> > locating
>>>> > the source of its title, and made the mistake of searching for it in
>>>> > Shakespeare's 'The Tempest.' It is from 'Timon of Athens.'

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