Jansy Mello: a PS to the commentary on The Vane Sister's “ 'prophetic' emphasis on icicles, umber, shades, ghosts ( I'm clearly refering to "Pale Fire"). Already in the first paragraphs we read: " I had stopped to watch a family of brilliant icicles drip-dripping from the eaves of a frame house. So clear-cut were their pointed shadows on the white boards behind them that I was sure the shadows of the falling drops should be visible too. But they were not...I walked on in a state of raw awareness that seemed to transform the whole of my being into one big eyeball rolling in the world's socket."

In the end, the solution to an acrostic, hidden in the story's last paragraph, serves to reveal that the narrator was all the time under the influence of the two sisters's ghosts:  Icicles by Cynthia. Meter from me Sybil.”  In a way, the ghosts steal from the narrator his liberty and his rights as an author, as if condemning him to permanent unconscious plagiarism.*


Initially I considered the word "meter" as indicative of verse forms, more fully developped in PF. I realize now how mistaken I'd been: " The lean ghost, the elongated umbra cast by a parking meter upon some damp snow, had a strange ruddy tinge; this I made out to be due to the tawny red light of the restaurant sign above the sidewalk; and it was then—as I loitered there, wondering rather wearily if in the course of my return tramp I might be lucky enough to find the same in neon blue—it was then that a car crunched to a standstill near me and D. got out of it with an exclamation of feigned pleasure."


Why should a parking meter and its ghostly umbra gain the importance that, later, prompts Sybil to manifest herself?

Did Nabokov, in Pale Fire, where Sybil reappears (there's Sybil Shade and the Cumaean Sybil from T.S.Eliot's epigraph in "The Waste Land"? ) deliberately echo the spiritualistic table-turnings from his original short-story (he brings up A.Wallace in both, and even PF's noisy garbage can and neon lights get a preview in it). Could this indicate that Pale Fire's author is actually Sybil?


Right now I came to only one conclusion: VN was inserting matters related to the present-day "theories of influence" (would Harold Bloom's Cherub gain an echo in Shade's poem?) and authorship, in particularly those that deny "inspiration by a Muse."  If Hazel, in B.B's interpretation, functions as a muse, then this dislexic awkward young woman must have been parodically intended by a very dictatorial author. 


btw: my faulty mnemonic registers connect another story to the present one which I cannot name right now. It describes a surrealistic sensation of rain and the dripdripping drops from an apartment when its flowering border is being watered

* - . "Oscar Wilde came in and in rapid garbled French, with the usual anglicisms, obscurely accused Cynthia's dead parents of what appeared in my jottings as 'plagiatisrne'."
I'm sure these issues have already been exhaustively explored by VN scholars. However for me, a common reader, who doesn't necessarily place the present story in the heightest step of a podium, it slipped easily into oblivion, were it not for the VN-L regularly bringing up some of these writings, to encourage a new read. The garbled French employed by Oscar Wilde (an Englishman, unlike the narrator, who is of French extraction), might have some connection to Aunt Maud's speech impairment influencing Hazel's own note-taking in Pale Fire. Both were familiar with Canadian French. It's about time that I checked my French translation of "Pale Fire" for the different rendering of Maud's fatidic warning. Was VN hinting at problems of translation? Was he playing around the issue of a "perfect language" (Cf. Georg Steiner and Umberto Eco ) in the spirit world?
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