----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 10:49 AM
Subject: Swans and Beavers in Pale Fire

An excellent book called "Twins and the Double" by John Lash, put me on the following train of thought:

cygnet > swan > Leda > dioscuri (beau tenebreux and bel tenebras perhaps)

Kinbote =The Great Beaver = Castor (mortal)
his twin = Much Sweet Wine = Polydeuces (immortal)

Who is Castor's twin? Botkin? Nothing immortal about Botkin. Shade? I think so.

There are several references to brothers in Pale Fire. There are the half-brothers, sons of Sylvia.   And there's a lame boy and his asthmatic or epileptic brother that appear once or twice.

Q. Does dioscuri really mean two obscures?

R. No, that would be a Latin mistranslation of the Greek dios kouroi, sons of Zeus, although one is actually the son of Tyndareus, and hence mortal (Castor). After his death, Polydeuces is put in the heavens as an immortal - Castor is included, but the twins must then alternate their days on Olympus and in Hades. They are also said to reflect the two hemispheres of the sky, which is interesting in light of all the brain imagery  in Pale Fire.

Q, What imagery?
A. All those brain-like nut halves, and hemispheres; walnut lined cells in the skyscraper.

Q. Are Shade and Kinbote twins?
R. No, Kinbote is more closely related to the mother, Caroline Lukin from whom his name is derived. Despite what Kinbote says of her family, the surname is Russian and he probably learned the language from her. Shade may have suppressed this knowledge.

Q. Why would he do that?
A. I'm not sure. I have been intrigued that although we know when Samuel Shade died, we don't know when his wife died.

Q. Why would that be important?
A. Because if she died when her son was 7 ...

Q. You don't mean ...
R. Well, parricide doesn't specify which parent.

Q. That's a dark thought.
A.  Yes, it is.