Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire - Evidently a Joke

By Alain Champlain, 30 October, 2019

I'd like to point out an element of Nabokov's style in Pale Fire, which is his use of words like "obviously" and "evidently." These go a long way in creating the voice for Kinbote. They also often signal an irony, a joke which Kinbote isn't a part of, helping to reveal a reality which Kinbote is in conflict with. (I want to stress the joke aspect though: Nabokov is really funny, and I don't want that to get lost in academese.)

Here are a few examples:

“[...]for in his draft as many as thirteen verses, superb singing verses (given by me in note to lines 70, 79, and 130, all in Canto One, which he obviously worked at with a greater degree of creative freedom than he enjoyed afterwards) bear the specific imprint of my theme, a minute but genuine star ghost of my discourse on Zembla and her unfortunate king."
(From Note to Line 42)

This first one is fairly self-explanatory. We learn early on to distrust any Kinbote's evaluation of Shade's interest in Zembla. By the way, since Shakeeb Arzoo recently wondered about the lines "Old Zembla’s fields where my gray stubble grows / And slaves make hay between my mouth and nose," I'd like to point out the "degree of creative freedom" (as opposed to slavery) with regards to Zembla (above).


" 'I guess Mr. Shade has already left with the Great Beaver.' Of course, I am quite tall, and my brown beard is of a rather rich tint and texture; the silly cognomen evidently applied to me, but was not worth noticing, and after calmly taking the magazine from a pamphlet-cluttered table, I contented myself on my way out with pulling Gerald Emerald’s bowtie loose with a deft jerk of my fingers as I passed by him.”
(From Foreword)

I'm including this one, which I've mentioned before in the Great Beaver post. I remain convinced that there's no way to take seriously any claim that Gerald Emerald would assume Shade would be leaving together with Kinbote. Rather than revisit that old chestnut, I'd like to note the subtle comedy that characterizes Emerald's dialogue ("I guess") in contrast with Kinbote's ("Of course," "evidently"); and Kinbote's hilariously catty "not worth noticing."

"[...] and found in my coat pocket a brutal anonymous note saying: 'You have has..… s real bad, chum,' meaning evidently 'hallucinations,' although a malevolent critic might infer from the insufficient number of dashes that little Mr. Anon, despite teaching Freshman English, could hardly spell.”
(From Note to Line 62)

Here, as in the Great Beaver line (but without its controversy), Nabokov uses "evidently" to a similar effect, further developing Kinbote's voice and his ironic remove from a reality which shines through for us, so long as we take the hint and discover that the note is about his halitosis. As a counterpoint to the Great Beaver line, in which Kinbote "mercifully" refers to the instructor as "Gerald Emerald," the same person is here mercilessly called "little Mr. Anon."

Next, another line I haven't seen properly commented upon, for which I'll likely receive more pushback:

“Honest Starover Blue will probably be surprised by the epithet bestowed upon him by a jesting Shade. The writer feels moved to pay here a small tribute to the amiable old freak, adored by everybody on the campus and nicknamed by the students Colonel Star-bottle, evidently because of his exceptionally convivial habits. After all, there were other great men in our poet’s entourage—for example, that distinguished Zemblan scholar Oscar Nattochdag."
(From Note to line 627)

By now, "evidently" should at least give us pause. Is the reason for the nickname "Colonel Star-bottle" really Starover Blue's "exceptionally convivial habits?" If we go back to Lines 188-189, we find him described as "glum," and not at all as "convivial." To be blunt: I suspect he was buying the students alcohol. (See the opening to Colonel Starbottle's Client by Brett Harte, in which the convivial titular character, a lawyer at Starbottle and Bungstarter, buys mint juleps for himself and his client.) I see this as part of a much larger pattern of alcohol in Pale Fire, and I'll likely write up a bigger post on this soon, but feel free to weigh in now if you'd like.

Note also the play between "Great Beaver," "little Mr. Anon," and "great Starover Blue," with only the former capitalized.

As for the mention of Nattochdag, I think this should remind us of another inappropriate relationship with students:

“There was also the morning when Dr. Nattochdag, head of the department to which I was attached, begged me in a formal voice to be seated, then closed the door, and having regained, with a downcast frown, his swivel chair, urged me “to be more careful.” In what sense, careful? A boy had complained to his adviser. Complained of what, good Lord? That I had criticized a literature course he attended (“a ridiculous survey of ridiculous works, conducted by a ridiculous mediocrity”). Laughing in sheer relief, I embraced my good Netochka, telling him I would never be naughty again. I take this opportunity to salute him.”

I can think of a few more, but I'll cut this short. I don't mean to say that every single instance of these words is a key to something hidden, but it's always worth the extra care. That said, I'm curious whether the opening of the commentary contains some joke I'm missing: “The image in these opening lines evidently refers to a bird knocking itself out [...]" As Boyd (I think?) has mentioned before, Nabokov likes opening with a joke, and not always an obvious one — Pale Fire just happens to have a few openings (the first joke being 999 couplets). Now that I think about it, I guess "knocking itself out" is a completely inappropriate turn of phrase. Are there any other problems with that sentence you can think of?





4 years 4 months ago

Although, I have nothing to disagree with the main thrust of the post: the use of "evidently" and "obviously" - so as to enhance comedy (by referring to something that should not be obvious to the those not-in-the-know); I do have a few different views of some of the points here. But before that, I must profess to be unaware (up until now) of the flurry of posts around the identity of Great Beaver from 2018. I read the thread, but I didn't see any viable candidate for the Great Beaver other than Kinbote/Botkin. Though it is absolutely true that Kinbote vastly exaggerates his friendship with John Shade (eg - "we giggled like schoolboys"), there's little doubt that Kinbote makes a lot of effort to ingratiate himself with Shade. For example -  "Your snicker, my dear Mrs. C., did not escape our notice as I was helping the tired old poet to find his galoshes after that dreary get-together party at your house." (Foreword) Here again,the part about "we" and "our notice" may be an exaggeration (John might not care) but Kinbote's efforts cannot be discounted. Goodness knows the efforts made off-stage by Kinbote to show his attachment to John that most likely have been noticed by their colleagues. See also, an outburst by a certain old lady "You are a remarkably disagreeable person. I fail to see how John and Sybil can stand you."

Secondly, although in Kinbote's mind, "little Mr. Anon" who teaches Freshman English is certainly Gerald Emerald - from the other view - I think the note must have been slipped by one of the students on whom Kinbote was applying his wrestling holds ("at which I had exuberantly thrown off my coat and shown several willing pupils a few of the amusing holds employed by Zemblan wrestlers"). The word "Chum" seems to be the marker here, and the prank seems appropriate for a smart alec (haven't we all tried something like this at school?).

Finally to round off, "knocking itself out" is an odd phrase, but then Kinbote would like to impress upon us his absolute familiarity with the poem. 'Oh! obviously Shade means this' or 'Evidently I imagine this as his first encounter with mortality'. What better way than to use a lot of assertions, the force of rhetoric, to persuade us? I would suggest (if I may) that Kinbote's procedure is a sort of anti-Sherlock Holmes, the kind where he declares "Elementary, my dear Watson" but then proceeds to explain the 'intricate logic'. Kinbote does the first as eloquently (irritatingly?), but dispenses with the second step.


PS - Btw. I agree with you that his Shade's freedom is increased rather than decreased by Canto Four, contra Kinbote. But this "stubble plains/fields" still seems familiar. I'm aware of the allusion to Housman "Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act" in the lines above (from Housman's excellent essay "The Name and Nature of Poetry") but something else may be here as well.


4 years 4 months ago



Those words definitely are a way of demonstrating K’s unintentional giving himself away as a pompous and clueless narrator. Also, since they are usually indicating the exact opposite of what he says, this ties into the pervasive motifs of opposites.



Starover Blue:


I hadn’t caught the drinking aspect before, tying him to Shade’s drinking. I am very curious to know what you think of that. It is part of my assertion that Shade is not all he seems - he drinks and has affaires. I see him as representing the archetype of the persona, the mask which hides the shadow.


Starover means “Old Believer.”

Old Believer. Old Believer, Russian Starover, member of a group of Russian religious dissenters who refused to accept the liturgical reforms imposed upon the Russian Orthodox Church by the patriarch of Moscow Nikon (1652–58).”


I don’t know how that fits into the overall picture, except for the spiritual/metaphysical underpinnings of PF.


There is a “Dr. Starov” in another VN novel, but I forget which.


Ljiliana Cuk has interesting astronomical theories for PF

https://drsuttonsite.wordpress.com › dr-sutton-who-or-what/


“Nattochdag” means “night and day,” presumably because he is so dependable? If he drinks, too, then it would seem he’s the type of person who basically tries to get by in his job without being bothered, which may be why he pretty much let’s K off the hook (i.e. he is not so dependable).



“Bird knocking itself out”:  a rather colloquial and unfeeling interpretation for an astoundingly evocative line of poetry. K pretty much dismisses it, when it clearly, yet ambiguously, is the essence of the poem he is commenting on. So, that’s the joke again – K’s inept commentary.


Also, waxwings are drunk when they collide with windowpanes. They are well known to behave erratically after consuming fermented berries.



Dr. Starov is a character in RLSK; Count V. V. Starov is a character in LATH. There may be more.




4 years 4 months ago

Dear Mary,

I agree with you when you say "Those words definitely are a way of demonstrating K’s unintentional giving himself away as a pompous and clueless narrator." Only "clueless" is a bit much. When I say Kinbote is delusional, it doesn't mean he's a bumbling idiot who appropriates and usurps Shade's poem for all intents and purposes. Dr. Charles Kinbote (or Prof. Vseslav Botkin) is his own person, acutely self-conscious and aware, possesses remarkable erudition - not for nothing does Shade introduce him "Prof. K is the author of a remarkable book of surnames." In his commentary, he manages an intricate system of correspondences of his own (I'm thinking of the King's landing in the farm; "in the limpid tintarron he saw his scarlet reflection. . ."), his prose-style magical; but what escapes him is the same problem (in a less severe and alarming way) that plagues the unfortunate boy from Signs and Symbols which is that of "referential mania":

"Clouds in the staring sky transmit to one another, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed information regarding him. His inmost thoughts are discussed at nightfall, in manual alphabet, by darkly gesticulating trees. Pebbles or stains or sun flecks form patterns representing in some awful way messages which he must intercept. Everything is a cipher and of everything he is the theme."

The other difference will be that in this little story, the boy is metaphysically "in the right" - since he is a character in V's fiction and a narrator (and we as readers) are "grotesquely misinterpreting" his actions. Anyways, back to Kinbote, as I had mentioned in an earlier post, (here) he also re-creates a very plausible scene with Hazel with her parents in the barn, which as Michael Wood had said, "cannot be too far-removed from truth" (and that brief interjection: "life is hopeless; afterlife heartless" is a heart-wrenching stream of thought from Hazel's consciousness).

But for the rest, I don't think I'll have any success convincing you of Shade's moral uprightness (antithetic level included). I'm sure you have had conversations with other Nabokovians on this topic before and it's fine really - if you can uncover stuff from the rabbit-hole of Pale Fire following the leads, it's good. Only if I may offer (and I hope it's not too peremptory or lordly) a small suggestion, not to be too tight with your system of references (like some critics do with the Homeric parallels in Ulysses; which in a way is the antithetic level as well) so as to allow some space for new thoughts to breathe and breed.


PS - Waxwings knocking themselves out is not so uncommon and at the first blush, a rather frigid way of presenting a long poem. It's only when we return to it again and again (I mean the line is just staring at us all through) does it become strange and uncanny (ostranenie). Kinbote's tone to this particular line seems fine to me. ;)


4 years 4 months ago


I agree with you. Kinbote is often erudite and insightful and often seems to be speaking with Nabokov's voice, especially when pointing out the positive aspects or brilliant lines of the poem. Nabokov also clearly wants to show him as clueless and risible in situations such as Alain has pointed out. Perhaps a better word would have been the one frequently used for Kinbote: unreliable narrator. 

I don't know how much you have read of my previous posts, but my main thesis is that Carl Jung's theories of alchemy and archetypes form a hidden substrate of Pale Fire, and can prove a consistent and comprehensive solution to many of the novel's problematic issues, particularly the reality and relationships of the characters. By "comprehensive" I don't mean "conclusive" or "exclusive." I don't in any way claim that this is the only way to look at PF, there are so many sources and so many levels to the work. However, so far I have found that all the pieces for this Jungian part of the puzzle fit. 

I have not as yet really been able to put forward all of my ideas and evidence. If you like, you can email me and I can send you part of my work in progress that describes Shade as the archetype of the persona. You can contact Dana Dragunoiu for my email address. If anyone else is interested, I invite you to do the same.

, Best, Mary  

I, too, was wont to draw my poet’s attention to the idyllic beauty of airplanes in the evening sky. Who could have guessed that on the very day (July 7) Shade penned this lambent line (the last one on his twenty-third card) Gradus, alias Degré, had flown from Copenhagen to Paris, thus completing the second lap of his sinister journey! Even in Arcady am I, says Death in the tombal scripture.

The activities of Gradus in Paris had been rather neatly planned by the Shadows. They were perfectly right in assuming that not only Odon but our former consul in Paris, the late Oswin Bretwit, would know where to find the King. They decided to have Gradus try Bretwit first. That gentleman had a flat in Meudon where he dwelt alone, seldom going anywhere except the National Library (where he read theosophic works and solved chess problems in old newspapers), and did not receive visitors. The Shadows’ neat plan sprung from a piece of luck. Suspecting that Gradus lacked the mental equipment and mimic gifts necessary for the impersonation of an enthusiastic Royalist, they suggested he had better pose as a completely apolitical commissioner, a neutral little man interested only in getting a good price for various papers that private parties had asked him to take out of Zembla and deliver to their rightful owners. Chance, in one of its anti-Karlist moods, helped. One of the lesser Shadows whom we shall call Baron A. had a father-in-law called Baron B., a harmless old codger long retired from the civil service and quite incapable of understanding certain Renaissance aspects of the new regime. He had been, or thought he had been (retrospective distance magnifies things), a close friend of the late Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oswin Bretwit’s father, and therefore was looking forward to the day when he would be able to transmit to “young” Oswin (who, he understood, was not exactly persona grata with the new regime) a bundle of precious family papers that the dusty baron had come across by chance in the files of a governmental office. All at once he was informed that now the day had come: the documents would be immediately forwarded to Paris. He was also allowed to prefix a brief note to them which read:


Here are some precious papers belonging to your family. I cannot do better than place them in the hands of the son of the great man who was my fellow student in Heidelberg and my teacher in the diplomatic service. Verba volant, scripta manent. (note to Line 286)


In a letter of Feb. 12, 1958, to Hans Bender C. G. Jung (cf. "young" Oswin) speaks of synchronicity and mentions chance (cf. Chance, in one of its anti-Karlist moods, helped):


Chance is an event, too, and if it didn’t exist causality would be axiomatic.


"In the most minimal degree" (Germ., im mindesten Grad), a phrase used by C. G. Jung in his letter to Hans Bender, suggests Gradus:


The astrological experiment is by its very nature a lucky hit; were it not so it would have to be casual.

But presumably it is causal only in the most minimal degree.

You could therefore dismiss it as a mere lusus naturae if nobody wondered about the so-called chance.


The problem is that Freudians were not exactly personae gratae with Nabokov (who could write Pale Fire without ever reading a single word written by the pupils of "the Viennese quack"). Still, one wonders when this letter of C. G. Jung was published and if VN could be familiar with it.


Oswin Bretwit and Hans Bender bring to mind Ostap Bender, the main character in Ilf and Petrov's novels Dvenadtsat' stuliev ("The Twelve Chairs," 1928) and Zolotoy telyonok ("The Golden Calf," 1931). According to Kinbote, the name Bretwit means Chess Intelligence. In "The 12 Chairs" Ostap Bender plays simultaneous chess at Vasyuki. Ferz Bretwit (the cousin of Oswin's grand-uncle Zule Bretwit) recalls ferz' (the chess queen) that grandmaster Bender sacrifices to an amateur player. In heraldy zule means "rook" and reminds one of the one-eyed player's rook that Bender steals from the chessboard. The Zemblan former consul, Oswin Bretwit lives in Paris. In "The 12 Chairs" Bender insists that Vorobyaninov (who came from Stargorod) came from Paris. On the next day after Gradus's visit, Oswin Brtewit is hospitalized, operated upon and dies under the knife. According to Ostap Bender (whose throat Vorobyaninov cuts with a razor at the end of "The 12 Chairs"), the surgeons saved him.


In "The Golden Calf" Bender tells Khvorobyev (the old monarchist who is tormented by Soviet dreams) that he has treated his friends using Freud’s methods:


-- Я вам помогу, - сказал Остап. - Мне приходилось лечить друзей и знакомых по Фрейду. Сон - это пустяки. Главное - это устранить причину сна. Основной причиной является самое существование советской власти. Но в данный момент я устранять ее не могу. У меня просто нет времени. Я, видите ли, турист-спортсмен, сейчас мне надо произвести небольшую починку своего автомобиля, так что разрешите закатить его к вам в сарай. А насчет причины вы не беспокойтесь. Я ее устраню на обратном пути. Дайте только пробег окончить.


"I’ll help you,” Ostap said. “I've treated several friends and acquaintances using Freud's methods. Dreams are not the issue. The main thing is to remove the cause of the dream. The principal cause of your dreams is the very existence of the Soviet regime. But I can’t remove right now. I’m in a hurry. I'm on a sports tour, you see, and my car needs a few small repairs. Would you mind if I put it in your shed? As for the cause of your dreams, don't worry, I'll take care of it on the way back. Just let me finish the rally.” (Chapter 8 “The Artistic Crisis”)


According to Kinbote, in a conversation with him Shade mentioned those joint authors of genius Ilf and Petrov.


4 years 4 months ago

Jung coined the now common word "synchronicity." His views on time/space/causality are very similar to Nabokov's. He was interested in all aspects of the occult and created a "scientific" study of astrology, which turned out to be inconclusive. There are quite a few astrological implications and allusions in PF.


Getting back to Alain’s  evidently/obviously observations, it occurs to me that not only do these words signal Kinbote’s cluelessness (I use this word now intentionally) but actually may be CLUES to many of the converging themes of PF.


VN signals there is a detective type mystery in PF with the introduction of Sherlock Holmes in the poem. The pheasant’s feet pointing backwards are a suggestion to the reader to go back into the text for clues.


For instance, as I pointed out in the "Great Beaver debate" posts, recognizing the epithet as pointing to Sybil (as Alain had originally suggested) was the clue I needed to deduce Sybil as Shade’s true murderer. Up until then, everything had seemed to fall into place for my Jungian archetype theory; Botkin/Kinbote seems to go through all the steps of a Jungian “Hero’s Journey,” depotentiating his shadow and persona and apparently his own “ego-death.” However, he never achieves the most important Jungian confrontation with the anima, thus leaving the question if his death was a true or failed transcendence (Jungian “individuation”). Once I realized that Sybil was the ultimate antagonist, that lead me to the Black Queen/Spider at the center of the web deduction of murderess, which I believe informs the plot story, and thus circles back to it, but with added information.  This is all part of the basic theme of circular return as a spiral (thesis, antithesis, synthesis).


Likewise, Kinbote’s comments on the opening lines. He makes little of them when, in fact as Shakeeb notes, “the line is just staring at us all through.” We are being alerted through VN’s “obviously” that here is where you should pay attention. The themes of “opposites meeting at the plane of the mirror” and “failed transcendence” are the major themes of PF.  Jung based his theories of “individuation” (transcendence) as the coming together of the opposites of conscious and unconscious.



The words “obvious/obviously” occur 7 times in PF.  “Evident/evidently/evidence” occurs 17 times. I have only done a brief scan of these, but they seem likely to also be markers for important thematic information.






4 years 3 months ago

I just checked on amazon and the first volume of Jung's selected letters was first copyrighted 1955. I can't "open" the vol. 2 to find dates. I don't know which volume would have the letter to Bender. I think VN could have read other of Jung's works previously to the letters publication to understand his synchronicity and astrology theories. But thank you for mentioning that, it has got me thinking now...

I think your idea of "young/Jung" is interesting, but it seems to me the whole Bretwit episode must have chess implications, rather than Jungian synchronicity. I don't play chess, so I don't know how that aspect fits in. However, it now occurs to me that "Baron B" is possibly "Baron Bland" the keeper of the treasure, so that would be intriguing, since Jung's alchemical writings are full of references to the "stone" being the "treasure," which Jung saw as the true "self", the Gnostic divine spark. The "divine spark" is the inner light - think: the "pale fire" of the Universal light.

It's true that VN hated "Freudians," but Jung broke with Freud over Freud's insistence on the Oedipal complex (VN's main bugbear) in favor of depth psychology. Even if VN hated Jung as well, it is unlikely that he would not have been disinterested in the century's second foremost psychologist, and Switzerland's most famous resident at the time of writing PF. Jung's theories are remarkably similar to VN's. As far as I can see, Jung's synchronicity (a now common word of his coinage) is pretty much identical to VN's time/space and spiral theories. Jung brought ancient alchemy out of obscurity, seeing it as a proto-psychological system. This informed his theory of archetypes, the sub-personalities in the unconscious. Both ITAB and BS portray characters as subpersonalities "oppressive" to the protagonist that prove to be illusions. It should not be at all surprising that PF would carry forward this theme. Pale Fire is full of allusions of alchemy and allied occult arts such as astrology, numerology and Tarot (too many examples to include here).  Jung wrote on the psychology of fairy tales; fairy tales and fey folk are also throughout PF. Jung was a member of the SPR (Society for Psychical Research), template for Shade's IPH. Jung's first published work was delivered to the SPR; it was on the subject of mediumship and poltergeists. Jane Provost's description of Hazel's poltergeist activity as being an "outward extension and expulsion of insanity" is basically taken from Jung's paper. Jung had a famous near-death experience, a subject of interest to VN and Pale Fire. The young Carl Jung was given to daily swoons when he was 11 years old which he wrote of in his autobiography, about the time that PF was gestating. 

I think there are plenty of reasons for VN to make Jung the most hidden substrate to this most abstruse novel, if only because no one would expect it.

Best, Mary

The letter to Bender is in Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 414-416. When did Vol. II of Jung's letters come out?


Baron Bland seems to blend Alexander Blok (the owner of Shakhmatovo, the poet's family estate in the Province of Moscow whose name comes from shakhmaty, chess) with Brand, the title character of a play in verse (1865) by Ibsen. At the end of his poem Vozmezdie ("Retribution," 1910-21) Blok mentions nebo - kniga mezhdu knig (heaven - Book among the books) and quantum satis Branda voli (quantum satis of strong-willed Brand):


Когда ты загнан и забит

Людьми, заботой, иль тоскою;

Когда под гробовой доскою

Всё, что тебя пленяло, спит;

Когда по городской пустыне,

Отчаявшийся и больной,

Ты возвращаешься домой,

И тяжелит ресницы иней,

Тогда - остановись на миг

Послушать тишину ночную:

Постигнешь слухом жизнь иную,

Которой днём ты не постиг;

По-новому окинешь взглядом

Даль снежных улиц, дым костра,

Ночь, тихо ждущую утра

Над белым запушённым садом,

И небо - книгу между книг;

Найдёшь в душе опустошённой

Вновь образ матери склонённый,

И в этот несравненный миг -

Узоры на стекле фонарном,

Мороз, оледенивший кровь,

Твоя холодная любовь -

Всё вспыхнет в сердце благодарном,

Ты всё благословишь тогда,

Поняв, что жизнь - безмерно боле,

Чем quantum satis Бранда воли,

А мир - прекрасен, как всегда.


When you are cornered and depressed
By people, dues or anguish.
When, underneath the coffin lid,
All that inspired you, perished;
When through the deserted town dome,
Hopeless and weak,
You're finally returning home,
And rime is on thy eyelashes, -
Then - come to rest for short-lifted flash
To hear the silence of night
You'll fathom other life by ears
That's hard to fathom at daylight
In new way you will do the glance
Of long snow streets and foam of fire,
Of night, quite waiting for the lance
Of morning in white garden, piled.
Of heaven - Book among the books
You'll find in the drained soul
Again your loving mother's look
And at this moment, peerless, sole
The patterns on the lamppost's glass
The frost, that chilled your blood
Your stone-hold love, already past
All will flare up in your heart.
Then everything you'll highly bless
You'll see that life is much greater
Than quantum satis of strong-willed Brand
And the world is beautiful as always. (Chapter III)


In Chapter One (ll. 211-213) of "Retribution" Blok mentions all those who ceased to be a pawn and whom the authorities hasten to promote to rooks or knights:


И власть торопится скорей
Всех тех, кто перестал быть пешкой,
В тур превращать, или в коней…


Tur (Gen. pl. of tura, obsolete for "rook") brings to mind the North Tower from which Baron Bland jumped or fell:


However, not all Russians are gloomy, and the two young experts from Moscow whom our new government engaged to locate the Zemblan crown jewels turned out to be positively rollicking. The Extremists were right in believing that Baron Bland, the Keeper of the Treasure, had succeeded in hiding those jewels before he jumped or fell from the North Tower; but they did not know he had had a helper and were wrong in thinking the jewels must be looked for in the palace which the gentle white-haired Bland had never left except to die. I may add, with pardonable satisfaction, that they were, and still are, cached in a totally different - and quite unexpected - corner of Zembla. (note to Line 681)


It seems that the Zemblan crown jewels should be looked for in Blok's Foreword to "Retribution:"


Тема заключается в том, как развиваются звенья единой цепи рода. Отдельные отпрыски всякого рода развиваются до положенного им предела и затем вновь поглощаются окружающей мировой средой; но в каждом отпрыске зреет и отлагается нечто новое и нечто более острое, ценою бесконечных потерь, личных трагедий, жизненных неудач, падений и т. д.; ценою, наконец, потери тех бесконечно высоких свойств, которые в своё время сияли, как лучшие алмазы в человеческой короне (как, например, свойства гуманные, добродетели, безупречная честность, высокая нравственность и проч.)


Blok compares the infinitely high qualities, such as humanism, virtues, impeccable honesty, etc., to luchshie almazy v chelovecheskoy korone (the best diamonds in man’s crown). At the end of Chekhov's play Dyadya Vanya (“Uncle Vanya,” 1898) Sonya promises to uncle Vanya that they will see the whole sky swarming with diamonds. According to Kinbote, the sky turned away showing its ethereal vertebrae when Andronnikov and Niagarin (the two Soviet experts in quest of a buried treasure) sang beautiful sentimental military duets at eventide. The name of Zemblan capital, Onhava (cf. onhava-onhava, "far, far away") seems to hint at heaven.


In Latin quantum satis means “the amount which is enough.” The 999 lines of Shade’s poem look insufficient. Kinbote believes that, to be completed, Shade’s almost finished poem needs but one lime (Line 1000, identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain”). But it seems that, like some sonnets, Shade's poem also needs a coda (Line 1001: “By its own double in the windowpane”). Dvoynik (“The Double”) is a short novel (1846) by Dostoevski and a poem (1909) by Blok (who did not know what a coda is). Blok’s poem "The Double" begins as follows:


Однажды в октябрьском тумане

Я брёл, вспоминая напев.


Once in the October haze

I shuffled, remembering a melody.


Bland + oktyabr’ + Pnin = Blok + Brand + inn + pyat’


oktyabr’ – October; Kinbote completes his work on Shade’s poem and commits suicide on October 19, 1959 (the anniversary of Pushkin’s Lyceum)

pyat’ – 5; Shade's, Kinbote's and Gradus's birthday is July 5 (while Shade was born in 1898, Kinbote and Gradus were born in 1915)


According to Kinbote, he arrived in America descending by parachute:


John Shade's heart attack (Oct. 17, 1958) practically coincided with the disguised king's arrival in America where he descended by parachute from a chartered plane piloted by Colonel Montacute, in a field of hay-feverish, rank-flowering weeds, near Baltimore whose oriole is not an oriole. (note to Line 691)


In Ilf and Petrov’s “The Twelve Chairs” Lasker arrives in Vasyuki (as imagined by the Vasyuki chess enthusiasts) descending by parachute:


Вдруг на горизонте была усмотрена чёрная точка. Она быстро приближалась и росла, превратившись в большой изумрудный парашют. Как большая редька, висел на парашютном кольце человек с чемоданчиком.

– Это он! – закричал одноглазый. – Ура! Ура! Ура! Я узнаю великого философа-шахматиста, доктора Ласкера. Только он один во всем мире носит такие зелёные носочки.


Suddenly a black dot was noticed on the horizon. It approached rapidly, growing larger and  larger until  it finally turned into a large emerald parachute. A man with an attache case was hanging from the harness, like a huge radish.

"Here he is!" shouted one-eye. "Hooray,  hooray, I recognize  the great philosopher and chess player Dr. Lasker. He is the only person in the world who wears those green socks." (Chapter 34 “The Interplanetary Chess Tournament”)


Lasker’s izumrudnyi parashyut (emerald parachute) brings to mind Izumrudov, one of the greater Shadows who visits Gradus (Shade’s murderer) in Nice:


On the morning of July 16 (while Shade was working on the 698-746 section of his poem) dull Gradus, dreading another day of enforced inactivity in sardonically, sparkling, stimulatingly noisy Nice, decided that until hunger drove him out he would not budge from a leathern armchair in the simulacrum of a lobby among the brown smells of his dingy hotel. Unhurriedly he went through a heap of old magazines on a nearby table. There he sat, a little monument of taciturnity, sighing, puffing out his cheeks, licking his thumb before turning a page, gaping at the pictures, and moving his lips as he climbed down the columns of printed matter. Having replaced everything in a neat pile, he sank back in his chair closing and opening his gabled hands in various constructions of tedium - when a man who had occupied a seat next to him got up and walked into the outer glare leaving his paper behind. Gradus pulled it into his lap, spread it out - and froze over a strange piece of local news that caught his eye: burglars had broken into Villa Disa and ransacked a bureau, taking from a jewel box a number of valuable old medals.

Here was something to brood upon. Had this vaguely unpleasant incident some bearing on his quest? Should he do something about it? Cable headquarters? Hard to word succinctly a simple fact without having it look like a cryptogram. Airmail a clipping? He was in his room working on the newspaper with a safety razor blade when there was a bright rap-rap at the door. Gradus admitted an unexpected visitor - one of the greater Shadows, whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in wild, misty, almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks our magical mechanical age plays with old mother space and old father time!

He was a merry, perhaps overmerry, fellow, in a green velvet jacket. Nobody liked him, but he certainly had a keen mind. His name, Izumrudov, sounded rather Russian but actually meant “of the Umruds,” an Eskimo tribe sometimes seen paddling their umyaks (hide-lined boats) on the emerald waters of our northern shores. Grinning, he said friend Gradus must get together his travel documents, including a health certificate, and take the earliest available jet to New York. Bowing, he congratulated him on having indicated with such phenomenal acumen the right place and the right way. Yes, after a thorough perlustration of the loot that Andron and Niagarushka had obtained from the Queen's rosewood writing desk (mostly bills, and treasured snapshots, and those silly medals) a letter from the King did turn up giving his address which was of all places -- Our man, who interrupted the herald of success to say he had never -- was bidden not to display so much modesty. A slip of paper was now produced on which Izumudrov, shaking with laughter (death is hilarious), wrote out for Gradus their client's alias, the name of the university where he taught, and that of the town where it was situated. No, the slip was not for keeps. He could keep it only while memorizing it. This brand of paper (used by macaroon makers) was not only digestible but delicious. The gay green vision withdrew - to resume his whoring no doubt. How one hates such men! (note to Line 741)


In Dostoevski’s novel The Idiot (1869) Keller mentions izumrudy (emeralds):


- Послушайте, Келлер, я бы на вашем месте лучше не признавался в этом без особой нужды, - начал было князь, - а впрочем, ведь вы, может быть, нарочно на себя наговариваете?

- Вам, единственно вам одному, и единственно для того, чтобы помочь своему развитию! Больше никому; умру и под саваном унесу мою тайну! Но, князь, если бы вы знали, если бы вы только знали, как трудно в наш век достать денег! Где же их ваять, позвольте вас спросить после этого? Один ответ: "неси золото и бриллианты, под них и дадим", то-есть именно то, чего у меня нет, можете вы себе это представить? Я наконец рассердился, постоял, постоял. "А под изумруды, говорю, дадите?" - "И под изумруды, говорит, дам". - "Ну и отлично", говорю, надел шляпу и вышел; чорт с вами, подлецы вы этакие! Ей богу!

- А у вас разве были изумруды?

- Какие у меня изумруды! О, князь, как вы ещё светло и невинно, даже, можно сказать, пастушески смотрите на жизнь!


“Listen to me, Keller,” returned the prince. “If I were in your place, I should not acknowledge that unless it were absolutely necessary for some reason. But perhaps you are making yourself out to be worse than you are, purposely?”

“I should tell it to no one but yourself, prince, and I only name it now as a help to my soul’s evolution. When I die, that secret will die with me! But, excellency, if you knew, if you only had the least idea, how difficult it is to get money nowadays! Where to find it is the question. Ask for a loan, the answer is always the same: ‘Give us gold, jewels, or diamonds, and it will be quite easy.’ Exactly what one has not got! Can you picture that to yourself? I got angry at last, and said, ‘I suppose you would accept emeralds?’ ‘Certainly, we accept emeralds with pleasure. Yes!’ ‘Well, that’s all right,’ said I. ‘Go to the devil, you den of thieves!’ And with that I seized my hat, and walked out.”

“Had you any emeralds?” asked the prince.

“What? I have emeralds? Oh, prince! with what simplicity, with what almost pastoral simplicity, you look upon life!” (Part Two, chapter XI)


In a conversation with Gorky Leo Tolstoy criticized Dostoevski's "Idiot:"


Чаще всего он говорил о языке Достоевского:

— Он писал безобразно и даже нарочно некрасиво,— я уверен, что нарочно, из кокетства. Он форсил; в «Идиоте» у него написано: «В наглом приставании и афишевании знакомства». Я думаю, он нарочно исказил слово афишировать, потому что оно чужое, западное. Но у него можно найти и непростительные промахи; идиот говорит: «Осёл — добрый и полезный человек», но никто не смеётся, хотя эти слова неизбежно должны вызвать смех или какое-нибудь замечание. Он говорит это при трёх сёстрах, а они любили высмеивать его. Особенно Аглая. Эту книгу считают плохой, но главное, что в ней плохо, это то, что князь Мышкин — эпилептик. Будь он здоров — его сердечная наивность, его чистота очень трогали бы нас. Но для того, чтоб написать его здоровым, у Достоевского не хватило храбрости. Да и не любил он здоровых людей. Он был уверен, что если сам он болен — весь мир болен... (Gorky, "Leo Tolstoy," XXI)


The maiden name of Shade's mother, Caroline Lukin seems to hint at Luka, the old man in Gorky's play Na dne ("At the Bottom," 1902). The characters of Gorky's play include the Baron and Bubnov (Bubnov is the writer in VN's novel "Glory," 1932). Gorky's real name, Peshkov comes from peshka (pawn).


According to Gorky, Tolstoy resembled a gnome. Not only Gradus, but also Shade and Kinbote seem to be gnomes. On his deathbed Conmal (Kinbote’s uncle, Zemblan translator of Shakespeare) called his nephew “Karlik:”


To return to the King: take for instance the question of personal culture. How often is it that kings engage in some special research? Conchologists among them can be counted on the fingers of one maimed hand. The last king of Zembla—partly under the influence of his uncle Conmal, the great translator of Shakespeare (see notes to lines 39-40 and 962), had become, despite frequent migraines, passionately addicted to the study of literature. At forty, not long before the collapse of his throne, he had attained such a degree of scholarship that he dared accede to his venerable uncle’s raucous dying request: “Teach, Karlik!”


In his poem V goluboy dalyokoy spalenke... ("In a blue and distant bedroom..." 1905) Blok mentions karlik malenkiy (a little dwarf) who stopped the clock:


В голубой далёкой спаленке

Твой ребёнок опочил.

Тихо вылез карлик маленький

И часы остановил.


Всё, как было. Только странная

Воцарилась тишина.

И в окне твоём - туманная

Только улица страшна.


Словно что-то недосказано,

Что всегда звучит, всегда...

Нить какая-то развязана,

Сочетавшая года.


И прошла ты, сонно-белая,

Вдоль по комнатам одна.

Опустила, вся несмелая,

Штору синего окна.


И потом, едва заметная,

Тонкий полог подняла.

И, как время безрассветная,

Шевелясь, поникла мгла.


Стало тихо в дальней спаленке -

Синий сумрак и покой,

Оттого, что карлик маленький

Держит маятник рукой.


VN’s novel Podvig (“Glory,” 1932) begins as follows:


Эдельвейс, дед Мартына, был, как это ни смешно, швейцарец, - рослый швейцарец с пушистыми усами, воспитывавший в шестидесятых годах детей петербургского помещика Индрикова и женившийся на младшей его дочери. Мартын сперва полагал, что именно в честь деда назван бархатно-белый альпийский цветок, баловень гербариев. Вовсе отказаться от этого он и позже не мог. Деда он помнил ясно, но только в одном виде, в одном положении: старик, весь в белом, толстый, светлоусый, в панамской шляпе, в пикейном жилете, богатом брелоками (из которых самый занимательный – кинжал с ноготок), сидит на скамье перед домом, в подвижной тени липы. На этой скамье дед и умер, держа на ладони любимые золотые часы, с крышкой как золотое зеркальце. Апоплексия застала его на этом своевременном жесте, и стрелка, по семейному преданию, остановилась вместе с его сердцем.


Funny as it may seem, Martin’s grandfather Edelweiss was a Swiss—a robust Swiss with a fluffy mustache, who in the 1860’s had been tutor to the children of a St. Petersburg landowner named Indrikov, and had married his youngest daughter. Martin assumed at first that the velvety white Alpine flower, that pet of herbariums, had been named in honor of his grandfather. Even later he could not fully relinquish this notion. He remembered his grandfather distinctly, but only in one form and position: a corpulent old man, dressed completely in white, fair-whiskered, wearing a Panama hat and a piqué waistcoat rich in breloques (the most amusing of which was a dagger the size of a fingernail), sitting on a bench in front of the house in a linden’s mobile shade. It was on this very bench that his grandfather had died, holding in the palm of his hand his beloved gold watch, whose lid was like a little golden mirror. Apoplexy overtook him during this timely gesture and, according to family legend, the hands stopped at the same moment as his heart. (chapter 1)


Jakob Gradus is the son of Martin Gradus, a Protestant minister in Riga. At the end of “Glory” Martin Edelweiss goes to Riga and then to “Zoorland,” crossing the Soviet-Latvian border. Martin’s and Sonya’s Zoorland resembles Kinbote’s Zembla (a distant northern land).


The maiden name of Martin’s grandmother, Indrikov, comes from Indrik (a legendary animal of Russian fairy tales, unicorn). In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions pawns promoted to ivory unicorns and ebony fauns:


It did not matter who they were. No sound,
No furtive light came from their involute
Abode, but there they were, aloof and mute,
Playing a game of worlds, promoting pawns
To ivory unicorns and ebony fauns;
Kindling a long life here, extinguishing
A short one there; killing a Balkan king (ll. 816-822)


In a letter of Feb. 12, 1958, to Hans Bender C. G. Jung speaks of synchronicity and mentions the accompanying phenomena in cases of death:


Hence the accompanying phenomena in cases of death: the clock stops, a picture falls off the wall, a glass cracks, etc.


The name of Jung's correspondent brings to mind Ostap Bender, the main character in Ilf and Petrov's novels "The 12 Chairs" and "The Golden Calf." In a conversation with Shade (a parody of Gorky's conversations with Leo Tolstoy) Shade mentioned those joint authors of genius Ilf and Petrov.


4 years 3 months ago

Alexey, I'm afraid I'm a little lost in the maze. Jung had correspondences with many people. The links seem pretty tenuous and rather convoluted. Ultimately I'm not clear on what the meaning would be thematically, or why they would occur in this particular episode of PF, which seems to have more to do with chess than synchronicity or death. 


Mary, sorry if my comments perplexed you. My vision of Pale Fire (and of other VN novels) that seems so clear to me is not easy to explain to others (particularly, since I have to do it in a foreign language). I agree with you that VN was aware of Jung and alchemy when he wrote PF, but explicit (or hidden) allusions to other authors should not be ignored either. For instance, in "a dazzling synthesis of sun and star" the star is actually Venus (the shy star of love eclipsed by the sun of marriage).


4 years 3 months ago

Right - I feel the same about the difficulty of trying to condense ideas into small comments. I realize it may seem that I have a monomania for Jung, but that is merely my focus and I am interested and aware for the many other allusions to authors and ideas. I also believe that ultimately there is an over-arching theme (Transcendence) that all of the motifs and allusions play into, and Jung's archetypes and alchemy are a major part of that. 

However, I think all allusions need to fit thematically and contextually, and not just inserted randomly. So I don't quite see the Jungian connection in the character of Oswin Bretwit or in this chess-oriented episode. I don't see the connection of Jung's letters to the precious letters, especially since it is not young Bretwit, but his grand-uncle and cousin who correspond.

By the way, if you haven't read James Ramey's paper on the Black Queen, it is a remarkable sleuthing through PF's index, particularly as it pertains to this Bretwit chess episode. The mention of  213 "letters" actually signal letters of the alphabet that when counted out reveal clues, ultimately to the appearance of a black queen crown emblem on PF's title page.

Any way, I am encouraged that you see evidence of Jung in PF, since I've had very little feed-back.

Best, Mary

I linked Oswin Bretwit ("young Oswin") to Ostap Bender, Hans Bender's odnofamilets (namesake) who plays simultaneous chess at Vasyuki in Ilf and Petrov's "The 12 Chairs." Please do not attribute to me things that I never said. To avoid further misunderstanding, please read more attentively my recent post MARTIN EDELWEISS & INDRIKOV IN GLORY; IVORY UNICORNS & MARTIN GRADUS IN PALE FIRE (https://thenabokovian.org/node/35849). 


I doubt that James Ramey plays chess. His article does not make sense to me.


4 years 3 months ago

I’m sorry, Alexey, I did not mean to offend you. It was nice to have a rare discussion, which should be for the sake of clarity and not meant or taken as personal. I have tried to follow your reasoning, but I thought it began with young(Jung) Oswin, so now I am even more perplexed, but I will leave it at that.  

Alain Champlain

4 years 3 months ago

I'm going to ignore most of this thread, and instead add another of the "great nicknames" in Pale Fire:

'The subject of teaching Shakespeare at college level having been introduced: “First of all, dismiss ideas, and social background, and train the freshman to shiver, to get drunk on the poetry of Hamlet or Lear, to read with his spine and not with his skull.” Kinbote: “You appreciate particularly the purple passages?” Shade: “Yes, my dear Charles, I roll upon them as a grateful mongrel on a spot of turf fouled by a Great Dane.'
(From Note to Line 172)

Great Beaver be damned — I hope I won't encounter any pushback when I say that 'Great Dane' is a Hamlet joke?

Alexey Sklyarenko

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by Alain Champlain

In Dostoevski's "Brothers Karamazov" Ivan Karamazov (who thinks that, since God does not exist, all is allowed) describes his devil to Alyosha and mentions the devil’s khvost kak u datskoy sobaki (tail like a Great Dane’s):


– Чёрт! Он ко мне повадился. Два раза был, даже почти три. Он дразнил меня тем, будто я сержусь, что он просто чёрт, а не сатана с опалёнными крыльями, в громе и блеске. Но он не сатана, это он лжёт. Он самозванец. Он просто чёрт, дрянной, мелкий чёрт. Он в баню ходит. Раздень его и наверно отыщешь хвост, длинный, гладкий, как у датской собаки, в аршин длиной, бурый…


“The devil! He's taken to visiting me. He's been here twice, almost three times. He taunted me with being angry at his being a simple devil and not Satan, with scorched wings, in thunder and lightning. But he is not Satan: that's a lie. He is an impostor. He is simply a devil -- a paltry, trivial devil. He goes to the baths. If you undressed him, you'd be sure to find he had a tail, long and smooth like a Danish dog’s, one arshin long, dun colour..." (Part Four, Book Eleven, chapter X)


According to Ivan Karamazov, the devil’s tail is buryi (brown). At the beginning of his article Pisatel' Burov ("The Writer Burov," 1951) G. Ivanov quotes Burov's words from his book V tsarstve teney ("In the Realm of Shades," 1951):


"Стократ блестяще написанные повести и рассказы... сегодня художественные пустяки. Чернила умерли, мертвецами бездушными стали слова... Сегодня это больше никому не нужно... Нужны - книги... что потрясать могли бы леса и горы".
И в заключение этих фраз, как вывод из них, властное требование - "Подайте нам Шекспира!"...
Кто это говорит и к кому обращается? Это говорит писатель-эмигрант, обращаясь к современности. Говорит от лица того собирательного русского человека, который за "Ночь" (т. е. за годы последней войны с её безграничной жестокостью и не менее безграничной бессмыслицей) "вырос и прозрел" и которому, чтобы запечатлеть трагические события последних лет, необходим "новый Шекспир" - новый мировой гений, с новыми словами и образами, "потрясающими леса и горы"...


According to Burov, we need a new Shakespeare - a new planetary genius, with new words and images "that would shake forests and mountains." In his poem Kak v Gretsiyu Bayron, o, bez sozhalen'ya… ("Like Byron to Greece, o without regret…" 1928) G. Ivanov mentions blednyi ogon' (pale fire):


Как в Грецию Байрон, о, без сожаленья,
Сквозь звёзды и розы, и тьму,
На голос бессмысленно-сладкого пенья:
- И ты не поможешь ему.

Сквозь звёзды, которые снятся влюблённым,
И небо, где нет ничего,
В холодную полночь - платком надушённым.
- И ты не удержишь его.

На голос бессмысленно-сладкого пенья,
Как Байрон за бледным огнём,
Сквозь полночь и розы, о, без сожаленья:
- И ты позабудешь о нём.


According to G. Ivanov, to his question "does a sonnet need a coda" Alexander Blok replied that he did know what a coda is. In his fragment Rim ("Rome," 1841) Gogol describes a carnival in Rome, mentions sonetto colla coda and in a footnote explains that in Italian poetry there is a kind of poem known as sonet s khvostom (“a sonnet with the tail”), when the idea cannot not be expressed in fourteen lines and entails an appendix that can be longer than the sonnet itself:


В италиянской поэзии существует род стихотворенья, известного под именем сонета с хвостом (con la coda), когда мысль не вместилась и ведёт за собою прибавление, которое часто бывает длиннее самого сонета.


In his Sonet ("A Sonnet," 1830), with the epigraph from Wordsworth ("Scorn not the sonnet, critic"), Pushkin mentions the author of Macbeth who loved a sonnet’s play. In a letter of Nov. 7, 1825, to Vyazemski Pushkin says that he just finished Boris Godunov (a play in blank verse written under the strong influence of Shakespeare) and that, after rereading it aloud, he clapped his hands and exclaimed: Ay da Pushkin, ay da sukin syn! (“What a Pushkin, what a son of a bitch!"):


Поздравляю тебя, моя радость, с романтической трагедиею, в ней же первая персона Борис Годунов! Трагедия моя кончена; я перечёл её вслух, один, и бил в ладоши и кричал, ай-да Пушкин, ай-да сукин сын!


In the same letter to Vyazemski Pushkin calls Krylov (the fat fabulist) preoriginal’naya tusha (a most original hulk) and quotes Karamzin who points out (in the “History of the Russian State”) that in the old days the word smerd meant “man of the common people:”


Ты уморительно критикуешь Крылова; молчи, то знаю я сама, да эта крыса мне кума. Я назвал его представителем духа русского народа — не ручаюсь, чтоб он отчасти не вонял. — В старину наш народ назывался смерд (см. господина Карамзина). Дело в том, что Крылов преоригинальная туша, граф Орлов дурак, а мы разини и пр. и пр....


Smerd brings to mind Smerdyakov, a character in “Brothers Karamazov.” In his autobiography Speak, Memory (1951) VN says that among his fellow writers whom he met in Paris in the 1930s there were a few Smerdyakovs:


Vladislav Hodasevich used to complain, in the twenties and thirties, that young émigré poets had borrowed their art form from him while following the leading cliques in modish angoisse and soul-reshaping. I developed a great liking for this bitter man, wrought of irony and metallic-like genius, whose poetry was as complex a marvel as that of Tyutchev or Blok. He was, physically, of a sickly aspect, with contemptuous nostrils and beetling brows, and when I conjure him up in my mind he never rises from the hard chair on which he sits, his thin legs crossed, his eyes glittering with malevolence and wit, his long fingers screwing into a holder the half of a Caporal Vert cigarette. There are few things in modern world poetry comparable to the poems of his Heavy Lyre, but unfortunately for his fame the perfect frankness he indulged in when voicing his dislikes made him some terrible enemies among the most powerful critical coteries. Not all the mystagogues were Dostoevskian Alyoshas; there were also a few Smerdyakovs in the group, and Hodasevich’s poetry was played down with the thoroughness of a revengeful racket. (Chapter Fourteen, 2)


In Canto Three of his poem Shade describes IPH (a lay Institute of Preparation for the Hereafter) and mentions Fra Karamazov mumbling his inept "all is allowed."


In the same note to Line 172 (books and people) Kinbote says that Shade listed Gogol and Dostoevski among Russian humorists.


See also my post of 09.09.2018 "cook-out chef apron, grateful mongrel & Great Dane in Pale Fire."