Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023369, Mon, 8 Oct 2012 17:18:13 +0000

Re: "My husband...has not read much Frost."
In 2010 I posted about a newspaper interview VN gave in 1962 (alas, the link no longer works) in which he not only says that Shade is a "follower of Robert Frost" but also reveals that he hoped that he was able to "produce a good poem." Now I think that Shade is more a follower of Frost in terms of persona (and certainly VN was familiar with Frost's public reputation) than poetics, but I think it is safe to say that he knew more of Frost than he let on.


Sam Gwynn has written about Yvor Winters as a possible model for Shade. To this I would add (as perhaps others have before me) Mark Van Doren. In addition to being a prominent formalist poet, he wrote criticism, including books on epic poetry (The Noble Voice), Shakespeare and Pope's contemporary, John Dryden. His son, Charles Van Doren, was part of a famous quiz show scandal in the fifties, an incident obliquely referenced by Kinbote in his note to line 681, when he describes Niagarin's smile as being like "those gentlemen who cheat in television quizzes."

Matt Roth

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