Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025178, Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:49:58 +0000

Re: RES: [NABOKV-L] Escher in Pale Fire, the poem?
Carolyn said: “It was the note at the beginning of the index stating that the three main characters were S, C and K that set me on the road to my solving of the riddle.”

MR: Actually, the Index note reads, “The capital letters G, K, S (which see) stand for the three main characters in this work.” The interesting question for me is not the letters but Kinbote’s use of the term “main characters.” This phrase is fitting if the book is a novel, but Kinbote seems to think he is writing a scholarly edition concerning real people. He might have said “persons” instead, though I dearly wish he had said “personalities.” If I had to guess, I would wager that this is Nabokov’s mistake, rather than an intentional error given to Kinbote. On the other hand, the phrase “this work,” which implies that Shade’s poem and K’s apparatus criticus are all of a piece, nicely reflects Kinbote’s narcissism.


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