FIND in
<--prev V304 next-->
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:27:04 -0700
From: maa32 
Subject: (urth) pale fire/short sun research paper

Since Pale Fire came up, I thought I would share with you that for the final 
project in graduate school last year I wrote a paper which dealt in part with 
metafictional narratives and how they actually instantiated faith in an 
ultimate author no matter how hard they tried to avow a descent into nihilism.
 I used unreliable narrators, and the two biggest primary sources were 
Nabokov's Pale Fire and The Book of the Short Sun.

I agree with Boyd's comments on Pale Fire entirely.  (I will briefly summarize 
them - skip if you don't want to know)


He believes that the suicidal daughter of John Shade actually comes back in 
the ubiquitous butterfly of the text to inspire Kinbote to finish the poem and 
the commentary, and that his reveries of his mythic homeland actually DID 
inspire Shade, even though he wasn't aware of it, because the inspiration for 
the poem (his dead daughter) and the inspiration for Kinbote's analysis (his 
dead daughter) were the same, and that she reached out to Kinbote beyond death 
in a butterfly because they were kindred spirits (he was going to kill himself 
after finishing the commentary). There are other messages from beyond the 
grave.  In it, I asserted that the crazy interpretation of Kinbote was 
actually correct - Pale Fire shows how even the most absurd commentary on a 
text can actually show us something profound about reality.
The statement "I am the shadow of the waxwing slain" is the daughter speaking 
from beyond the grave - it is the final statement that Kinbote must complete - 
so that he can become the shadow of the waxwing slain.

I argued that the same thing was going on in The Book of the Short Sun - that 
while the narrator believed that he was writing about searching for his idol 
(silk) and his home, he was actually the idol trying to find the man who 
worshipped him (Horn), who existed beyond death in a brute creature who aided 
Silk(Babbie).  (so I made a link between the roles of animals as a return of 
things lost)  I talked about how the quest to find Silk became the reader's 
quest to find Horn.  Silk was never hidden.  Horn was.  The paper is great, 
but very complicated.  If anybody is interested, I might be able to get a 
copy.  Remember that I had to present it in front of an audience that had 
never read Short Sun, so some things are of course simplified.  In any case, I 
was able to tie the two texts together very nicely (somehow).

Oh well.  (Writing my own book now - 23,000 words finished in the last week.  
Writing is sure hard.  I don't think I can add any criticism of Wolfe's short 
fiction - I think often they operate like roman a clefs - you just need the 
key to unlock them -  I think he is a great, great short story writer, and 
Endangered Species is my favorite of his collections.  Heartily second "In the 
House of Gingerbread" - I love that story - but I don't necessarily like happy 
stories.  I think he is the greatest at both short and long fiction - I don't 
think anyone can touch him - but his willful obscurity can certainly frustrate 
if you don't hit on the right detail in the text.)

Marc Aramini


<--prev V304 next-->