Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0013359, Wed, 27 Sep 2006 13:10:32 EDT

Re: On symmetry

In a message dated 27/09/2006 14:00:04 GMT Standard Time,

'The Circle' - the story flows into itself (as middle part of Pale Fire)

There is no middle part of Pale Fire, and no evidence as far as I know,
apart from Kinbote's unsubstantiated assertion that, in the second part, the poem
itself, line 1000 = line 1.

Dmitri Nabokov, answering my question about this some months ago, said that
his father had at an early stage pointed out the "round the corner" nature of
the last line, but he has not yet answered my question just what he or his
father meant by that, or whether that actually implies line 1000 = line 1 in
the mind of Shade or of VN (or indeed DN).

I think Susan Elizabeth Sweeney's suggestion for line 1000 (in the great
competition at the turn of this last year) was the nicest, but it still lacks
the consonne d'appui.

As a general rule, is it not crucial not to fall for the symmetries and
circularities proposed by self-absorbed narcissists like Hermann and Kinbote? A
large part of VN's challenge to the reader is not to be seduced by such
unreliable (to put it absurdly mildly) narrators. It may seem easy not to be
seduced, as these narrators are so outrageous, but in fact people do seem to me to
accept some of their assertions far too readily (as happened with Humbert
too, of course). Such acceptance does not seem to me the mark of what VN called
a good reader.

Anthony Stadlen

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