Keeping in mind our recent discussions about games, problems and fairy chess, here is a sentence I extracted from VN’s “Strong Opinions.” 


Games mean the participation of other persons; I’m interested in the lone performance – chess problems, for example, which I compose in glacial solitude.” (SO,117)


It intrigued me because V. Nabokov here emphasizes solitude whereas, in his other commentaries and, specially, in his novels, the author-reader-solver relationship is a permanent feature, i.e., when he is composing games and riddles V.N’s mind must be then considering “someone else,” even if the imagined other bears his traits. 


In “Pale Fire,” though, the independent loner is the (apparently) sociable John Shade, not Kinbote. The figures with whom John Shade engages with in his long poem belong to his imagined past, even his “beloved” Sybil.

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