NABOKV-L post 0005866, Thu, 29 Mar 2001 09:45:53 -0800

[Fwd: Re: Pale Fire and Dr. Johnson's cat]

from Ken Tapscott,

I have a question. At the ripe old age of 45, I've finally begun to
Boswell's _Life of Samuel Johnson_ and have come across the episode in
book about Johnson's cat, Hodge, which forms the epigraph to _Pale
Fire_. I
don't presently have access to Brian Boyd's new book on _Pale Fire_, nor
does the Atlanta Public Library system, where I live, yet have a copy of
Boyd's book. So I'm asking the list members, what do we make of that
epigraph? The anecdote as it appears in the novel is essentially all
is to the story, except that Nabokov left out that Boswell informs the
reader that he himself never liked cats, and describes his antipathy to
in such terms that make me strongly suspect he was allergic to them.
Boswell includes the story in order to show that the curmudgeonly Dr.
Johnson was a great lover of animals. In _Pale Fire_ someone gets shot,
Hodge seems to be threatened with, and the _Life_ is a book about a
sycophant following around a noted literary figure, as is the case with
_PF_, but surely there must be more to it that that? The _Life_, by the
is a fascinating book, and anyone who has experienced any interest or
amusement poring over Nabokov's commentary to _Eugene Onegin_ will
certainly enjoy reading about Dr. Johnson and his own _very_ strong
opinions. Any illumination on this issue is appreciated.

-Ken Tapscott
EDITOR's NOTE. A hasty look a Boyd's bio and recent PF book did not turn
up anything on this -- but maybe I missed. Field does comment on it, I
recall. KT's comments are certainly to the point, but does anyone have
any additional thoughts.