Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0007105, Sun, 17 Nov 2002 15:07:07 -0800

Fw: Questions for Shadeans
Questions for Shadeans
----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 1:27 PM
Subject: Questions for Shadeans

----- Original Message -----
From: STADLEN@aol.com
Sent: Saturday, November 16, 2002 8:13 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: CK replies to Tom Bolt re Hazel's roommate

In a message dated 17/11/02 01:40:42 GMT Standard Time, chtodel@cox.net writes:

Shade does not say that Hazel has a roommate. The reader is lead to make that assumption from Shade's statement that Hazel sometimes sits with "that nice frail roommate, now a nun."

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?

Anthony Stadlen

Dear Anthony Stadlen,

Eminently reasonable as it may be, Hazel does not have a roommate in Pale Fire. You and Mr Friedman and Jennifer are re-writing the novel. There is no indication in the novel that Hazel has a roommate, she lives at home. She lives at home during the school year. Might she have had a roommate? Of course. Does she? No.

I realize this is damaging to the school of St. John the Divine, but there is evidence in the novel that Shade has had an affair with a student. You may choose to ignore it, of course, but the evidence remains. I did not invent it.

To those who see John Shade as he portrays himself in the poem, I would like to know how you explain his bizarre muse: "And that odd muse of mine, My versipel is with me everywhere." What does he mean?

How do you explain that self-effacing modest man declaring in Canto IV :

"Now I shall spy on beauty as none has
Spied on it yet. Now I shall cry out as
None has cried out. Now I shall try what none
Has tried. Now I shall do what none has done." ...

"Now I shall speak of evil and despair
As none has spoken. Five, six, seven eight,
Nine strokes are not enough." ...

"Now I shall speak .... Better than any soap
Is the sensation for which poets hope" ...

"Now I shall speak of evil as none has
Spoken before. I loathe such things as jazz;"

What do you think is going on here? I see a man disintegrating, probably, from evidence in the commentary, suffering a stroke. This is not the John Shade you have grown to know and love.
Who is it?