Annotations by Alexey Sklyarenko

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Please read Alexey Sklyarenko's annotations on Pale FireAda and other Nabokov works here.

Japanese friend & Last Supper in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Wed, 09/08/2021 - 07:05

At the beginning (and, presumably, at the end) of his poem John Shade (the poet in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962) calls himself “the shadow of the waxwing:”

 

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By the false azure in the windowpane;

I was the smudge of ashen fluff - and I

Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky. (ll. 1-4)

 

342 in Lolita Alexey Sklyarenko Tue, 09/07/2021 - 15:14

In VN’s novel Lolita (1955) the number 342 reappears three times. 342 Lawn Street is the address of the Haze house in Ramsdale. 342 is Humbert Humbert's and Lolita's room in The Enchanted Hunters (a hotel in Briceland where they spend their first night together). According to Humbert Humbert, between July 5 and November 18, 1949, he registered (if not actually stayed) at 342 hotels, motels and tourist homes.

 

Prismatic Bezel in TRLSK Alexey Sklyarenko Tue, 09/07/2021 - 06:53

In VN’s novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) Sebastian Knight’s first book (1925) is entitled The Prismatic Bezel:

 

Starover Blue, Oscar Nattochdag & Saratov in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Sun, 09/05/2021 - 15:41

In Canto Three of his poem John Shade (the poet in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962) describes IPH (a lay Institute of Preparation for the Hereafter) and mentions the great Starover Blue:

 

We heard cremationists guffaw and snort

At Grabermann's denouncing the Retort

As detrimental to the birth of wraiths.

We all avoided criticizing faiths.

velkam ut Semblerland Alexey Sklyarenko Sat, 09/04/2021 - 03:46

According to Kinbote (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla), Zembla is a corruption not of the Russian zemlya (earth), but of Semblerland, a land of reflections, of "resemblers:"

 

waxwing & Botkin in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Fri, 09/03/2021 - 18:50

In VN’s novel Pale Fire (1962) John Shade’s poem begins as follows:

 

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By the false azure in the windowpane;

I was the smudge of ashen fluff - and I

Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky. (ll. 1-4)

 

all colors, even gray in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Thu, 09/02/2021 - 11:18

In Canto One of his poem John Shade (the poet in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962) says that, when he was a boy, all colors made him happy, even gray:

 

All colors made me happy: even gray.

My eyes were such that literally they

Took photographs. Whenever I'd permit,

Or, with a silent shiver, order it,

Whatever in my field of vision dwelt -

ufgut, ufgut in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Wed, 09/01/2021 - 15:52

Describing Gradus’ day in New York, Kinbote (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions a Zemblan moppet who cried to her Japanese friend: Ufgut, ufgut, velkam ut Semblerland! (Adieu, adieu, till we meet in Zembla!):

 

Umruds & umyaks in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Tue, 08/31/2021 - 05:57

According to Kinbote (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla), the name Izumrudov (of one of the greater Shadows who visits Gradus in Nice) sounds rather Russian but actually means "of the Umruds," an Eskimo tribe sometimes seen paddling their umyaks (hide-lined boats) on the emerald waters of Zembla’s northern shores:

 

mascana fruit & Iris Acht in Pale Fire Alexey Sklyarenko Sat, 08/28/2021 - 06:16

Upon the ex-king’s arrival in America, Sylvia O’Donnell (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, the mother of Odon, world-famous Zemblan actor who helps the king to escape from Zembla) offers Kinbote (Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) a mascana fruit (Kinbote is a confirmed vegetarian):