----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, October 18, 2002 9:19 PM
Subject: Tim and Joan in Istanbul
The way my alternate reading of Pale Fire has developed
really comes from an incident in the second chapter of Pnin. I was reminded of
it while reading G. Barabtarlo's article on Pnin on the Zembla web site.
I read the interlude slightly differently, however, and it is a technique that I
used again in trying to understand Pale Fire.
Professor Barabtarlo points
out an odd insertion into the narration :
Technically speaking, the narrator's art of
integrating telephone conversations still lags behind that of rendering
dialogues conducted from room to room, or from window to window across some
narrow blue alley in an ancient town with water so precious, and the misery of
donkeys, and rugs for sale, and minarets, and foreigners and melons, and the
vibrant morning echoes.
This oriental town-scene will remain
dangling until much later in the chapter it dawns upon the reader that it
describes a particular water-color in the hallway and that N. is reproducing
what Joan's "roaming eyes" scan as she is answering Pnin's call.
But for me the "rest of the story" came very
quickly, within a page or two in my text. When Joan Clements and Pnin meet, she
points out that they were in Istanbul at the same time. "We might have met!"
Might have? They did. Joan and Timosha first spoke to each other from one
window to the other across the alley and later one was invited to the other's
home where the conversation continued from room to room. Or they might have been
introduced by their parents first and then continued their conversation across
Admittedly, this requires some filling in on the part of the
reader and I can't prove that this is what Nabokov intended, but it did give me
pleasure to discover it and I have to suppose that this was intended by the
author. A similar way of linking and filling in seems to work in Pale
Fire, and I hope some one besides me is willing to try this way of reading