NABOKV-L post 0022986, Sun, 24 Jun 2012 15:30:20 -0400

Subject
Why hide? Even further
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Years ago I sent posts to the list under the rubric "Why Hide?" regarding Pale Fire and its possible relation to RLS's Jekyll and Hyde. For those not old enough to remember, my thesis was, and still is, that the genesis of Pale Fire was VN's attempt to recreate for a contemporary reading public the thrill that the original audience for J&H experienced in discovering that the bizarre and horrid Mr Hyde was indeed an aspect of the respected Dr Jekyll.
I recently asked the question, if not on the List then in private correspondence, in regards to the familial relationship of Nabokov and Diaghilev the same question: "why hide?". Why does VN never express towards Diaghilev the pride he displays in other member of his family? Why in fact is the relationship hidden? And why does he, Diaghilev, come out,* in the character of Dangle Leaf, in Ada? After dipping into Boyd's the American Years and Beth's Ballets Russes article I think I know the answer, to wit, VN's well-known homophobia (a politically invented concept I think, but here apropos).

It turns out that VN's homosexual younger brother, the unfortunate Sergei, was a member of the Diaghilev coterie, a very gay coterie as we all know. We also know that VN's relationship with this brother was a fraught, even tortured one of guilt and shame. There are hints in Pale Fire that Shade has or has had, a younger brother. Kinbote is that homosexual brother and double that Shade cannot acknowledge.

In his lecture on J&H VN goes so far as to posit the possibility that the unspeakable nature of Hyde's crimes was homosexuality. Isn't it possible that Diaghilev/Dangle Leaf and Sergei/Kinbote represent VN's repression, or at the very least inability to deal with, homosexuality in his family and very possibly in himself?

Any comments? is it possible that I have discovered the so-long missing link in VN's biography and work?
Carolyn Kunin


* no pun was intended - but there it is!

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