NABOKV-L post 0002674, Wed, 31 Dec 1997 07:26:37 -0800

Re: PF narrator? BOYD (fwd)
From: Walter Miale <>

Brian Boyd wrote:

>Perhaps these striking connections...
>can be explained in some way other than by seeing Shade as
>author. Simply ignoring the countless individual problems of _Pale
>Fire_ and their cumulative effect does not seem a profitable critical
>response to the novel; and if one actually tries to account for them,
>I know of no explanation yet proposed as an alternative to Shadean
>authorship that does explain these riddling allusions, echoes,
>connections and coincidences...
>Now Shade, when we meet his work, is much older...
>... One might therefore expect, from the
>example of Nabokov...
>that Shade by late in his career would have become far more deceptive
>....Shade too articulates his own conviction of the
>importance of deceptiveness in art...

>...All right, the
> Shade-as-author solution to these interlocking problems may be wrong,
> but...

Books by writers of genius are not hard to come by, but the READER of
genius is a rare bug. Brian Boyd's account of the fictive authorship of
Pale Fire is so delightful and brilliant that I would follow him to any
conclusion, and the argument is almost irresistable that given the homely
character of so much of the poem (homely poetry about homeliness?),
Nabovkov's admiration of Shade is hard to understand unless one imagines
Shade to be the author of the commentary. Also nearly irresistable is the
argument that PALE FIRE is an inexplicable title for the poem alone. And
the reversed footprints (Echoed by Umberto), the tantalizing and sublime
subtleties....Far out! Shade as the author of the commentary and of the
whole thing is an infinitely more interesting, not to say TOO interesting,
Shade, and the novel read without this critical insight pales. Bravo!
(wink) Encore! Royal fun! Another A-plus, Mr. B.

Walter Miale

PS Seems to me Hazel is Delores's shade and that Pale Fire is an act of
contrition for the sins of another fictive author, the white widowed male.