Vladimir Nabokov

Misprints in Pale Fire's Index

By MARYROSS, 15 February, 2019

I have noticed a cluster of misprints in Pale Fire’s index. I don’t know if they are accidental or intentional, but since reading James Ramey’s astounding discoveries of purposeful punctuation anomalies in the index (Pale Fire’s Black Crown, Nabokov Online Journal, Vol. VI (2012) pp. 1-17) I have to wonder.



Under Shade, John Francis we find:


“his fear that S might leave before finishing their joint composition, 288

This is actually under “287” – there is no “288”


“his waiting vainly for S on July 15th, 338

This is actually under “334” – there is no “338”


“his walk with S through old Hentzner’s fields and his reconstitution of S’s daughter’s expeditions to the Haunted Barn, 347

This is actually under “334” – there is a 347-48 but it is not about Hentzner or the barn.  It’s about Hazel’s word-twisting.


The only thing I can say about these is that they occur one after the other in a cluster and, although they are under "Shade," the “his” in each refers to Kinbote.  However, that may just be because they follow an entry with K as the subject.  There are no misprints later in the entries employing “his” in relation to K that follow the entry 768 with K as subject.


I have the Knopf Everyman 1992 edition of PF. I would be curious to know if these misprints exist in other versions. -also, if anyone has noticed any other index anomalies.



5 years 4 months ago


I just realized there are two "347"s. One is "347" (which is about the barn) and the other is "347-348" (Hazel's word-twisting)

I did coincidently just find another mistake, though: Under "Kinbote" "his disapproval of certain flippant passages in Canto Three, 502". Although I can't recreate it here, there is a superscript "2" after "502"

I have no idea if that means anything, though, or just a typo.


5 years 4 months ago

For what it's worth, I've noticed that throughout Pale Fire, abrieviations "Mr." and Mrs." have no punctuation in the Knopf Everman's Library edition.

William Dane

4 years 3 months ago

The same number misprints are in what seems to be a book club reprint of an original Putnam edition (the list of Other Works in the front matter does not extend past PF to Ada etc, but strangely the dust jacket does indicate VN's death date in 1977. The front matter also includes the black chess crown that Ramey found and included pictures of in his excellent article).

The superscript 2 is attached to the note listing for line 502 under Kinbote as well, and refers to the second of two notes linked to that one line, I think (The grand potato and IPH).

Mr. Lavender, Dr. Sutton, Mrs. Shade etc. do have the requisite periods after the abbreviations in this version.

All is the same in the 1989 Vintage as well.


4 years 3 months ago

Hi! What a surprise to have a response pop up after more than a year. You are right about the superscript. Interesting that the periods after the title abbreviations showed up in the later addition. I did read somewhere after my post that titles are sometimes done without periods, so I suspect these not intentional anomalies. (Although it is also possible that, like the chess queen crown, their intentional use was not passed on to future additions.