Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027749, Thu, 10 May 2018 12:41:36 -0700

Pale Fire. Abraham,
Lyndy: "Nabokov's Alchemical Pale Fire." Dutch Quarterly Review
of Anglo-American Letters, 20
I received a very nice and encouraging email from John Granger regarding my PF and alchemy thesis. He has alerted me to a paper published in 1995 by Lyndy Abraham ("a giant in literary alchemy") titled "Nabokov's Alchemical Pale Fire". My previous attempts to google "Pale Fire, alchemy" had not turned up anything, so I am thrilled to read this, even if dismayed a bit at not being original.

Her insights are about 90% of what I have recognized with some very interesting things I am now very pleased to know. She quotes Carl Jung, but does not suggest that Nabokov based the alchemy allusions on his work in particular. I have a few insights that she does not mention, the most important being the crucial role of the myth of Atalanta and the Mercurial-Christ image of Balthazar. She also sees John Shade's poem as a failure and even bad poetry, without the "quick-silver" of Kinbote. I think it is great. She sees the alchemy thread as indicating artistic creation, which I firmly believe it is, but I think it also is meant as Jung saw it - as psychological and metaphysical and a path of liberation (Individuation in Jungian terms).

I plan to continue looking into Jung's archetypes as tropes in PF. I believe they, more than, or along with alchemy, explain the relationships of the character and their motivations as purposeful parody. Ultimately the parody supports what I think is the meta-theme of transcendence (or failed transcendence).

I suggest anyone interested read Ms Abraham's wonderfully written, scholarly but not too esoteric paper:

Pale Fire - Penn State University Libraries
Pale Fire. Abraham, Lyndy: "Nabokov's Alchemical Pale Fire." Dutch Quarterly Review of Anglo-American Letters, 20 (2), pp. 102-119

Also, as it turns out, her paper is #1 on the bibliography of Nabokov criticism, which I was unaware of! https://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/bibpf.htm

I am a Nabokov novice, a reader not a scholar. I post on the listserve in the hopes of getting feedback, whether positive or negative.

(Thanks, John!)

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