H wader flung pot

H(azel) died as a "wader" and was also responsible (with Maud's ghost, perhaps) for the "psychokinetic" events: "Saucepans crashed in the kitchen." The anagrammatic decoding of Hazel's transcription may be both her confession and her intention to die or Maud's revealing her secret and her fate. Or it may mean nothing.

As for the rooms, take a careful look at the passage:

I was brought up by dear bizarre Aunt Maud,
A poet and a painter with a taste
For realistic objects interlaced
With grotesque growths and images of doom.
She lived to hear the next babe cry. Her room
We've kept intact. Its trivia create
A still life in her style: the paperweight
Of convex glass enclosing a lagoon,
The verse book open at the Index (Moon,
Moonrise, Moor, Moral), the forlorn guitar
The human skull; and from the local Star
A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4
On Chapman's Homer, thumbtacked to the door.

Hazel's room is next to Shade's study. Maud's must be further down the hall. Why would the shades have kept the room intact? Why not? Maud was a surrogate mother to Shade and was head of the household until he married. The house seems to have at least four bedrooms (John and Sybil's, Hazel's, Maud's, and a guest bedroom) plus one or two separate studies (Sybil is a writer, too). It would be unlikely that the Shades would need a guest room as long as Hazel was living in the house, but Shade mentions that his childhood room is kept as such.

Ben Chapman's homer took place in 1937 or 1938, when he played for Boston. Some baseball expert can probably locate the box score for the Yankees game he won.


It is unlikely that the three year-old Hazel would have been clipping items (inadvertently alluding to Keats) from the local sports pages.

It is also interesting that Shade says "intact" instead of "untouched" or "the same." Both Maud and Hazel were, separately, virgo intacta.

                             Her room
We've kept intact. Its trivia create
A still life in her style.

It is unlikely that Shade would make an error in pronoun reference. The sequence of antecedent and pronouns in the passage is: Maud-She-Her. She was a painter, and Shade says the intact room and its "stuff" "create / A still life in her style," i. e. "realistic objects interlaced / With grotesque growths and images of doom." Hazel, who must have felt close to Maud and her dog, is not mentioned anywhere as an artist (except as helping to paint the set of her school pantomime).

Shade's rejected passage:

. . .  her [sic] room /  We've kept intact. Her trivia for us / Retrace her style: the leaf sarcophagus / (A Luna's dead and shriveled-up cocoon).

Ars longa vita (or naturae) brevis is a serious reduction of Pale Fire's many themes though it certainly is one of them. For Shade the completed poem is his much-sought afterlife; for Kinbote, his own story; for VN his life's work.

Sam Gwynn

-----Original Message-----
From: Mary Ross <maryross.illustrator@GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Mon, Sep 18, 2017 8:30 pm
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Hazel's message and other matters

It seems to me Nabokov leaves (intentionally) a lot of things open to interpretation. "Her room" follows "the next babe", so it could be either Hazel or Maud. I just think there is more of a case for Hazel, especially the glass lagoon, not to mention the more believable level of grief.

Hazel was upset that her parents got rid of Maud's dog, presumably because they didn't care, so why would they keep a shrine for the old lady? Maud and Hazel do seem to be in league in the occult arena.

Likewise, the poltergeist activity and spirit in the barn are open to interpretation, depending especially on the reader's beliefs. Same with John Shade's "fits". Nabokov doesn't seem to want to throw his weight onto one side or the other in matters of the occult, at least on the surface of the plot. I've been investigating the allusions, several times removed, of Carl Jung's influence. Jung clearly had occult interests, although, like Nabokov, he walked the razor's edge of belief v assertion.

Sam, your solution to the spirit message is interesting. I'm not sure what "wader" means, though. Somehow I just think the message has to be more essential to the main themes of the book, rather than just the plot level. If I had to offer a succinct interpretation of the main theme, it would be "Art triumphs Nature" (the myth of Atalanta)

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