Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005871, Thu, 29 Mar 2001 11:57:45 -0800

: Re: Pale Fire and Dr. Johnson's cat]]
Well, I'm sure the purpose of the Boswell epigraph is quite obscure and
clever, but right off the top my head I would suggest that the themes of
self-delusion and the uncertain machinations of fate has something to do
with it. After all in "Pale Fire" Shade addresses these themes
intentionally (as in the fountain/mountain fiasco) and unintentionally
the famous passage at the end of the poem where Shade declares that he
confident that he will wake the following day, when, of course, he is
to shot dead by Gradus/Grey/Sudarg.) So I would imagine that the use as
epigraph of Johnson's confident, but unfounded, assertion that "Hodge
be shot" by the mysterious (or shadowy or grey) figure who is going
London shooting cats is a foreglimpse of some of the novels important
- indeed, two of VN's constant themes. It's been some time since I read
Boswell, but I'm curious: Did Hodge get shot?

EDITOR's NOTE. No, Hodge does not get shot. Boyd points out that
Boswell's constant urging Dr. J. to visit B's native Scotland (way to
the North) may be echoed by Dr. K.'s urging the ZEMBLA theme on Shade.
Does anyone know why Dr. J. named his cat "Hodge"?