NABOKV-L post 0006911, Sun, 13 Oct 2002 11:04:20 -0700

Fw: The Puzzle of the 3 rd Magus in Pale Fire
The Puzzle of the 3 rd Magus in Pale Fire
----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2002 10:43 AM
Subject: The Puzzle of the 3 rd Magus in Pale Fire

One of the missing pieces in the Pale Fire jigsaw puzzle is the third Magus. Balthasar is the gardener, Melchiorre is the Pope, but where is Caspar?

He might be an "oriental prince," in which case could he be the oriental prince that Sylvia marries in 1925 or thereabouts? Or he might be the "asiatic potentate" to whom Kinbote sends homosexual pornography (see Index under Igor II).

Q. Is there anything like an oriental prince in New Wye?
R. There's that Korean student of Shade's who sometimes used to sit with Hazel and, according to the Commentary, is an invited guest to Shade's last birthday party. He couldn't be the one Sylvia marries in 1925, but could be his son.

Q.What about Sylvia - who is she?
R. If, as Kinbote tells us, Shade's portrait of his wife in his poem is an idealized one, perhaps Sylvia might be a more realistic portrayal.

Q. You mean, Sylvia is Sybil? There is the name similarity, but all those travels?
R. The reading list of a bored wife, 15 years childless, perhaps.

Q. But all those marriages?
R. Love affairs of a bored wife in an unconsummated marriage, perhaps.

Q. What makes you think the marriage is unconsummated?
A. I think Kinbote's confession to Disa is Shade's to Sybil. I think the five fingers of his hand make him wince (or flinch) because they remind him of the particular people he was involved with sexually in his "demented youth." The Shade marriage is consummated (nicely in Nice) nine months before Hazel's birth.

Q. How can you be so sure?
R. It seems to fit in with my theory that Kinbote is Shade's suppressed homosexual side. But of course I can't be sure. You can imagine lots of reasons not to have children for 15 years.

Q. And the Korean student would be?
R. Possibly the son of Sylvia and an oriental prince and/or possible homosexual interest of Kinbote/Shade's.

Q. What makes you think that?!
R. See Igor II in the Index.

Q. You mean?
R. That's why Hazel commits suicide? Very possibly. It makes more sense to me that if she had already formed an impossible attachment to a half-brother, and/or if her father was pursuing her boyfriend, the blind date fiasco would have very easily pushed her over the edge. It explains Kinbote's uncharacteristic reticence regarding the oriental prince.

Q. ?
R. I mean that Kinbote, being a part of Shade, still carries Shade's unbearable shame and is unwilling to discuss the subject. The oriental prince is about as popular in this novel as Botkin.

Q. In your theory, is Shade responsible for another suicide?
R. How nice of you to ask. Yes, I think the "mutter mit ihrem kind" committed suicide after the confrontation arranged by Kinbote.

Q. But if Shade and Kinbote are the same person?
R. An alternate personality can arrange things to cause the dominant personality harm, especially if it fits his agenda. Kinbote resents both Shade's wife and his mistress. He can't touch Sybil, but he tries, and succeeds in harming Shade through his mistress.

Q. Explain to me again, how do we know he has a mistress?
R. Shade tells us that "Aunt Maud lived to hear the next babe cry." Kinbote correctly points out that this can hardly refer to Hazel. I assumed the child had to be related to Maud and went looking for another "babe," one of whose parents had to be either Shade or Hazel.

I found that Shade had put the babe and his mother in the poem as the "other love" of a widower at IPH and her son who died together in a head-on collision on a wild March night. If the babe is related to Maud, he is also related to Shade, his son, in fact. The mother of "the babe", the blonde in a black leotard, was a student of Shade's and she is said to "haunt Lit 202."

Kinbote knows who she is and is perfectly willing to tattle, but Shade is also aware of her and what happened to her and the child. The moments before their deaths are described/imagined by Shade in the travelogue he and Sybil watch on TV during Hazel's last date. We know that the "other love" mit ihrem kind died in a head-on car crash on a March night, and the travelogue also describes headlights dilating like stars on a March night. It goes on to refer to the engendering of Hazel in Nice.

Q. You are very hard on Shade.
R. Me? Please, I didn't write this novel, I'm just trying to read it.

Q. And this all comes from Caspar?
R. Otherwise, it could be a reference to a town in Wyoming. There is a Cobalt in Canada, by the way. Not too far from Montreal.

Q. And what do you make of that?
R. Nothing, at the moment.

Thanks, God! as a Czech friend of ours used to say.