Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023348, Mon, 1 Oct 2012 15:25:52 +0000


Having immersed myself in Brian Boyd's work on PF, I still can't help feeling less than fully convinced about the haunted barn episode. Not, I hasten to add, about Brian Boyd's analysis so far as it goes. It's just that I feel that VN owes us an explanation to something which doesn't happen in the barn.

What troubles me is that, if we accept that Aunt Maud is warning Hazel that John Shade should not cross the lane - and there are references to the Red Admiral (which BB identifies with Hazel herself) and so on in the fractured words spelled out by the light ("Pada atalana...etc") then we must accept that Aunt Maud's ghost is able to foresee the future. So if she is attempting to warn John Shade through Hazel about the fate that awaits him if he crosses the lane, why does she not also foresee Hazel's future death and try to warn Hazel about that - perhaps not to go to Hawaiian bars or on blind dates, or to avoid young men called Pete?

I'm sorry to be flippant about this, but it does seem odd that the ghost of Aunt Maud (who lived long enough, we know, to see Hazel born) should be so solicitous for the life of a sixty-one year old, but not for the life of his daughter - a vulnerable young woman in her early twenties.

A possible answer I suppose is that Aunt Maud knows that Hazel will be reincarnated as the Red Admiral and it is therefore necessary for Hazel to die before JS, so that Hazel can reinforce the warning given in the barn by her flight as a butterfly - but unfortunately nobody deciphers the message in the barn, so Hazel's "role" goes unremarked.

But that does rather cast Aunt Maud in a rather poor light - being prepared to permit the sacrifice of Hazel's life in order to try to protect John's.

And in any event, it doesn't answer the question as to whether Maud could ever affect a future event that she can foresee.

Barrie Akin

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of NABOKV-L, English
Sent: 01 October 2012 15:40
Subject: [NABOKV-L] EDITORIAL: Falling ahead

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