Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0007104, Sun, 17 Nov 2002 15:06:26 -0800

Fw: Responses re Hazel's roommate
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nick Grundy" <nick@bsad.org>
To: "Vladimir Nabokov Forum" <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 12:13 PM
Subject: Responses re Hazel's roommate

> This message was originally submitted by nick@BSAD.ORG
> Anthony Stadlen wrote:
> >
> >Surely it makes no sense to have a "dangling" roommate, without stating
> whose roommate she is, in this context? Don't >Shade's/Nabokov's words
> have the plain meaning/implication that she is Hazel's roommate?
> The oddity of the roommate lies precisely in the fact that she is
> doesn't it? I quite agree with Tom Bolt and others that "that" (that that
> "that"?) can be and probably is idiomatic. However, while it certainly
> suggests a roommate Shade knows, the reader doesn't - the "that" refers to
> a specific person from his memory, but - as he would have been well
aware -
> the reader of his poem will not know her, and so the "that" rings slightly
> hollow.
> If we follow the eminently reasonable and sensible suggestion that Hazel
> could have acquired a roommate anywhere despite spending a lot of time at
> home (college holidays are worth mentioning here), the issue becomes, for
> the reader, still cloudier: Shade has referred to someone the reader
> know, and now refers to a place and time they also cannot.
> To me the two absent bits of information are a problem, especially because
> Shade refers to them in a familiar way that suggests the reader *ought* to
> know about them. He's quite casual, and you could reasonably accuse him
> being studiedly so; if so, there are more liar's devices here to join the
> one Carolyn has already pointed out.
> There are two obvious counters to this argument: you could argue that (at
> least) this part of Shade's poem is addressed to Sybil, and so the
> narrator-Shade can reasonably assume knowledge of the person and the
> location he's referring two. Alternatively, you could argue simply that
> Shade chooses to gloss over unimportant details. Neither entirely solves
> the problem, one because the reader must tackle the poem without knowing
> what its addressee does, and the other because unimportant details in
> Nabokov are so rarely unimportant.
> Carolyn Kunin wrote:
> >Hazel 's roommate is either a rare Nabokov error, or Shade caught in a
> prevarication.
> Without wishing to twist your argument round on itself, could it also be
> Kinbote breaking into Shade's writing and making a mistake? That the
> roommate is a nun might remember Kinbote's unhealthy obsession with
> religious discussion...
> Nick.