In a message dated 30/09/2006 23:50:25 GMT Standard Time, NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU writes:
Dear Anthony,

If it's no trouble, please do send a copy of your reply as well (I'd like to check if I'm not the one who is disremembering, and see if I can glean anything else of help).


Dear Dmitri,
No trouble: see below.
Best wishes,
[sent on 20 December 2005 to DN's private email and also to NABOKV-L]
Dear Dmitri,

1. Please forgive my stupidity, but in your email to Don I'm not sure just what you mean by:

<< He also pointed out to me, very early on, the phantom "around-the-corner" 1000th line. >>.

Do you mean your father said line 1000 was "around-the-corner" in the sense that it was identical with line 1, or in the sense that it was a mystery, or....?

2. I hope you didn't think I was trying to deflate either the poem "Pale Fire", which I revere, or your father's "extra-textual" information about it, which is of great interest. I've had an exchange with Brian Boyd about it, ooutside NABOKV-L, in which I said:

<< I suppose my feeling about the "extra-textual" does not really stand up to examination, except in so far as those who don't happen to know about Nabokov's letters, interviews, etc. are at a disadvantage. But then so are those who don't recognise the countless literary allusions in the text, and those who don't know English, etc....

My uncle, Peter Stadlen, gave the first performance of Webern's Piano Variations Op. 27 in 1936, and was coached for weeks by Webern in the nuances of rubato and expression that Webern wanted, none of which are in the text. The performances by pianists who tried just to play what Webern wrote are flat and meaningless. So, as my uncle argued, it is no argument against the legitimacy of a work of art that it needs extra-textual information to make sense of it.

Also, of course, the Jewish tradition is that the written Torah requires the oral Torah to interpret it.

However, having granted all that, I agree with you that Nabokov is generous, and fair, to his readers, so that it should be possible to deduce from the text such an important aspect as that line 1000 = line 1, if that is what he really intended. Since the text is open in that respect, and since he did not even, as far as we appear to know so far, say elsewhere that line 1000 = line 1, should we not ourselves make a point of keeping the question open? >>

With best regards,

Anthony Stadlen

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