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Pale Fire Canto 3 Analysis Essay

A Pale Fire Timeline
by Jerry Friedman

This is the second chronology of Pale Fire that I know of; the first was by Kevin Pilon (218–225). I developed this one independently. The third chronology I know of is in German, by Dieter Zimmer (2008:563–581). When I read Pilon’s chronology, I found that I had included a good deal more than he had, but I had missed a few events. They are marked here with the notation [KP], and comments on things that Pilon understood or said differently are also introduced with his initials. Material not in his timeline is delimited by braces {}.

This timeline contains every datable event I found in Pale Fire, including some that I could date only speculatively or only to a range. This inclusiveness may make reading sizable parts of the timeline tedious, but I hope anyone looking for something specific will be able to find it.

I’ve supplied exact dates for a few real events, such as Tennyson’s birth, for which the text gives only years. I have not included real events mentioned but not dated in the text, such as the publication of In Memoriam, or events from history or Nabokov’s life. Each event is accompanied by a reference to the text—FW for the Foreword, l. for a line in the poem, n. for a note to a line, and I. for the Index. References to the Foreword include the page number in the Vintage edition, as “FW: 13,” as do references to the longer notes. When the Index entry isn’t obvious, I’ve given it with the abbreviation s.v. For quotations from Pale Fire, the reference is that given for the timeline entry in which the quotation occurs.

Events dated “sometime” occurred at an unknown time in the given year. Events may not be in the right order, especially if given as “sometime” and other non-specific dates. Dates with question marks, “c.,” or words such as “probably” and “possibly” are consistent with the text, I believe, and arise from my evidence-less speculations based on my ideas of narrative plausibility.

In some places where the dating isn’t obvious from the reference, I’ve mentioned something about how I reached my conclusions. Related to this is the question of whether Kinbote’s dates are always exact. They don’t seem to be, as he refers to “the five-month period of my intercourse with the Shades (n. 579)”; the period is slightly over five months, from February 16 to July 21 or a few days later. Thus a reference to “three decades”, for example, might also be approximate.

Real events are given with emphasis. I’ve made no attempt to discriminate between fictionally “real” and fictionally “unreal” events. Like Pilon, however, I’ve referred to a character whose life Kinbote narrates as “Gradus,” but to the murderer as “Grey”. Unfortunately, I see no way to date the “real story” of Botkin. I can’t find any evidence on when Botkin’s delusions about Zembla start, when the Kinbote personality appears, or when Botkin arrives in America, in New Wye, at Wordsmith. (Subsidiarily, I can’t tell whether Kinbote permanently replaces Botkin or the two personalities alternate, and whether any of Kinbote’s references to himself refer to Botkin.) I have, though, given three dates, two of them speculations by Boyd (1999), when certain of Kinbote’s delusions may start.

I’ve noted three apparent temporal discrepancies (1902, 1915, 1929). Two could have arisen if Nabokov or Kinbote thought Shade was born in 1899 and later changed or corrected it to 1898—but not everywhere. Although Boyd (1995) has argued that such discrepancies in other novels can simply be mistakes on Nabokov’s part, there’s a hint that Nabokov might have planted these two discrepancies as a revision or mistake on Kinbote’s part: that would explain Kinbote’s “slip” in the note to line 167.

I welcome comments and corrections of all kinds. They may be posted to NABOKV-L or mailed to me.

10th Century
{“A thousand years ago five minutes were/ Equal to forty ounces of fine sand” (ll. 120–121).}

12th Century
{The Kong-skugg-sio is written (n. 12).} (The title is now usually written Konungs skuggsjá, and the work has long been dated to the mid 13th Century [Tromholt 1885, for example]).

{Thomas Flatman is born (I.).}

{Thomas Flatman does not disappear, but only dies (I.).}

{“Two Queens, three Kings, and fourteen Pretenders died violent deaths” in Zembla during this (extended) century (n. 62).}

{Hodinski moves to Zembla (I.).}

{Hodinski collects or forges Zemblan variants of the Kong-skugg-sio (n. 12).}

{Emperor Uran the Last reigns in Zembla (n. 681, I.).}

{Queen Yaruga’s favorites kill Uran and she reigns in Zembla (I.).}

1800 Jan. 1 (O.S.)
{Queen Yaruga and Hodinski drown in an ice-hole during the New Year’s festivity (I. s.vv. Hodinski and Yaruga). She is succeeded by her son Igor II, whose father is ostensibly her late brother Uran but according to most historians Hodinski (n. 681, I. s.vv. Hodinski and Igor II).} [KP gives Yaruga’s death as an example of what he omits as “readily available in the Index”.]

Early 19th Century
{Count Komarovski, a Russian diplomat, becomes famous for mispronouncing his own name at foreign courts (I. s.v. Marrowsky).}

1809 Aug. 5
{Alfred [Lord] Tennyson is born (n. 920).}

1824 or 1825
{The future Thurgus III is born (I.)} [Pilon calls him “Thurgus Vseslav” and also refers to “Alfin Vseslav”, possibly thinking “Vseslav” is a surname.]

1835 June 2
{Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, later Pope Saint Pius X, is born (n. 85).}

Igor II dies and is succeeded by Thurgus III (I.).

1851 or 1852
Samuel Shade is born (n. 71). [KP: 1852. Here and elsewhere, KP assumes that ages can be obtained by subtracting years. Thus Samuel Shade, who “died at fifty, in 1902,” would have been born in 1852. However, he could have been born in 1851 and not yet reached his 1902 birthday when he died.]

Conmal, Duke of Aros and half-brother of Queen Blenda, is born (I.).

1859 March 26
{A. E. Housman is born (n. 920).}

{Franklin Knight Lane, later U.S. Secretary of the Interior, is born (I.).}

Maud Shade is born (n. 86–90).

{The oldest of the Shadows, the probable murderer of Iris Acht, is born (I. s.v. Acht, Iris).}

The future King Alfin the Vague is born (n. 71, I.)

1874 March 26
{Robert Frost is born (n. 426).}

{An extraordinary episode takes place at Onhava University (n. 347).}

{“Dr. Sutton” is born (ll. 987–988). (I’m assuming that ages are obtained simply by subtracting years. Then Shade was 21 in 1919, the year of his marriage, so Dr. Sutton was 42, so he was born in 1877. With other interpretations, Dr. Sutton could have been born in 1876, 1878, or 1879.)}

The future Queen Blenda is born (I.).

c. 1880
Conmal learns English. He translates Shakespeare’s Sonnets on a bet with a fellow officer, and then retires from the Army to start his career as a translator (n. 962). [KP: 1880]

c. 1885
{The maternal grandfather of the Shadows’ leader makes repairs to the king’s quarters (including the secret passage?) and shortly thereafter is poisoned in the royal kitchens (I. s.v. Shadows).}

Mid 1880s
{Thurgus the Third has trysts with the actress Iris Acht in a secret passage from his dressing room (later a lumber room) to a lumbarkamer in the Royal Theater (n. 130: 134; I.).}

Iris Acht dies, officially by suicide and unofficially by murder (n. 130: 122; I.).

{The owner of the motor court in Cedarn is born (a “seventy-year-old man” in the fall of 1959) (n. 810).}

Around this time (“some seventy years ago” in 1959), Ferz and Zule Bretwit have their correspondence (n. 286). [KP: 1889]

Walter Campbell, Charles’s tutor, is born (I.).

1890? 1895?
{Sylvia O’Connell is born (I.).}

1892 Oct. 6
{Alfred, Lord Tennyson dies (n. 920).}

1898 Early in the year
Sybil Irondell is born (“a few months his [Shade’s] senior”) (n. 247). [KP: “March, approximately”]

July 5
John Shade is born in New Wye (FW: 13, n. 167, I.).

Thurgus the Third dies (n. 130: 121; I.) and King Alfin accedes to the throne of Zembla (n. 71, I.).

1900–1914 Summer
{At some point King Alfin mislays an emperor (n. 71).}

1902 Before July 5
Samuel Shade dies (but John Shade seems to be “not quite three”, which would put his birth in 1899 or Samuel’s death in 1901, an apparent discrepancy) (n. 71).

1903 Summer
{Wordsmith College is photographed (FW: 20).}

August 9
{G. M. Sarto becomes Pope Pius X (n. 85).}

{Ferz Bretwit’s widow publishes Ferz and Zule’s correspondence.}

Disa’s grandfather builds a villa at Cap Turc called Villa Paradiso (Italian) or Villa Paradisa (Zemblan), later Villa Disa (n. 433–434).

1909 July
Shade has his first fainting attack (“When I’d just turned eleven”) (ll. 141–156). [KP: “July, approximately”]

1909? Winter
Shade has fainting attacks every afternoon (ll. 157–159) “for several weeks”, according to Kinbote (n. 162). [As I read it, this could be a later winter, but KP takes it to be this winter.]

King Alfin almost drowns while flying a hydroplane (n. 71).

1914 Sometime
Oswin Bretwit is born, {as is Romulus Arnor} (I.).

Aug. 20
{Pope Pius X dies (n. 85).}

1915 Sometime
{Sylvia O’Connell marries and divorces Leopold O’Donnell (I.)} and Donald O’Donnell (“Odon”) is born to them (I.).

Count Otar is born (I.).

July 5, O. S. or N. S.
Prince Charles Xavier Vseslav is born (n. 1–4, n. 433–434, I.). The difference between his age and Shade’s is seventeen years, not sixteen as Kinbote says to Sybil (n. 181), an apparent discrepancy.

Jakob Gradus (henceforth “Gradus”) is born, apparently in Riga (n. 17, 29, I.). Both Zembla (n. 71) and Latvia used the Old Style calendar at the time; starting in 1900, July 5 O. S. was July 18 N. S. [KP doesn’t discuss the Old Style and New Style calendars.]

{Colonel Peter Gusev builds a monoplane, Blenda IV, for King Alfin (n. 71). His son Oleg, future (?) duke of Rahl, is born (n. 130: 123; I.)}

{Maybe around this time Col. Gusev marries Sylvia O’Donnell.}

Nodo is born to Leopold O’Donnell and a Zemblan boy impersonator (I.).

1917 January
{Charles Rockwell Payne publishes his translation of The Psychoanalytical Method by Dr. Oskar Pfister, later quoted by Prof. C. (n. 929).}

On a senior-class outing, Shade falls in love with Sybil Irondell (possibly the year before or after) (ll. 247–260). [KP: 1916]

1917 or 1918
{Fifalda de Fyler, later Countess Otar, is born (n. 71).}

1918 or 1919
Fleur de Fyler, later Countess de Fyler, is born (n. 71). [KP: 1919]

1919 Jan. 7
{King Alfin and Charles are photographed together (Dec. 25, O. S.) (n. 71).}

Jan. 7–13 (Dec. 25 to 31, O. S.)
{Colonel Gusev is by now the First Duke of Rahl.} King Alfin dies in a plane crash (n. 71, I.). [KP places this in 1918, using O.S.]

Jan. 14?
{Maybe on Jan. 1 New Style, Zembla adopts the New Style or Gregorian calendar (n. 71).}

Early in the year
King Alfin’s widow, Queen Blenda, becomes the ruler of Zembla (n. 71, I.). [KP: still 1918]

Before July 7
Shade and Sybil marry (l. 275, n. 275).

Martin Gradus, Jakob’s father, dies. {His widow moves to Strasbourg. “Soon thereafter”, she dies too, and young Jakob is raised by a merchant coincidentally also surnamed Gradus (n. 17, 29).}

1921 May 17
After a major operation and one day [KP] before his death, Franklin Lane writes a remarkable passage about life after death (n. 810, I.).

1921 July 5 to 1922 July 4
The six-year-old Prince Charles’s nurse consoles him with a Zemblan proverb (n. 1000). [KP: 1921]

{Possibly around this time (“my early boyhood”), he sees a conjurer at his uncle’s castle (FW: 27–28).}

Mr. Campbell arrives in Zembla to become Charles’s tutor (n. 71).

[KP: Jack Grey kills his father. KP, perhaps in whimsy, apparently assigns Gradus’s birth year (according to Kinbote) to Grey and assumes the seven-year-old parricide who Goldsworth kept a picture of was young Jack.]

1923 July 5 to 1924 July 4
Charles finds photographs of his father’s plane crash (n. 71). [KP: 1923]

{Baron Radomir Mandevil is born (I.).}

{Sylvia O’Donnell leaves Zembla to marry an Oriental prince (I.).}

1928 Sometime
{Julius Steinmann is born (I.).}

Before July 5
Disa is born (n. 275, n. 433–434). She spends this summer and the next fourteen at the Villa Paradisa (n. 433–434).

1929 [KP: 1928] Late April or early May
Charles and Oleg, Duke of Rahl (though his father is still alive), share a bed for the first time (n. 130: 124).

Mr. Campbell sprains his ankle in the Mandevil Forest (n. 130: 124; n. 149). While he is still laid up, Charles and Oleg find Thurgus’s secret passage and reach the theater, where they’re frightened by a rehearsal, possibly of The Merman. “Soon after”, Charles almost dies of pneumonia. “To recuperate he was sent for a couple of seasons to southern Europe.” (n. 130: 125–128).

KP’s placement of these events in 1928 is probably based on Kinbote’s statement that they were “three decades earlier” than 1958 (n. 130: 123) and “thirty-year-old patterned imprint” (N. 130: 133), taking that time as exact. A placement in 1929 would be based on the statement (n. 130: 123) that the king was 13 in May, as he turned 13 on July 15, 1928. The discrepancy seems minor; possible explanations are that “three decades” is approximate, or that Kinbote or Nabokov calculates ages simply by subtracting years, or that Kinbote lies to Sybil about his birthdate, perhaps to embarrass her or to suggest a connection with Shade.

1929? Summer?
Charles sees a guilty-looking priest apparently receive divine grace (n. 47–48).

Conmal finishes translating Shakespeare and starts on Milton and other poets (n. 962).

c. 1930?
{In Gradus’s “early youth”, he joins an unsuccessful attempt to beat up a local lad who had won a motorbike at a fair (n. 171).}

1931 Sometime
{Mr. Campbell finishes his stint as Charles’s tutor (I.)}

Late in the year
Oleg dies at fifteen in a toboggan accident (n. 130: 128; I.).

{Charles begins “dividing his time between the University and his regiment,” “the nicest time of his life” (n. 71).}

After July 5
{Mr. Campbell leaves Zembla (n. 71).}

A young lecturer from Boston shows the student Prince Charles a copy of Shade’s book Night Rote, in particular the poem “Art” (n. 957).

1933 “The first part of the year”
The Shades visit Nice, possibly glimpsing Disa and her English governess. Hazel is conceived, presumably (ll. 433–435, n. 433–434, I. s.v. Shade).

1934 Early in the year
Hazel Shade is born (l. 435, n. 86–90, n. 293, I.). [KP: January-February, approximately.] {Her fellow college students (the nice frail roommate, the White twins, the Korean boy, maybe Pete Provost and his friend and his friend’s friend) would probably have been born around this year.}

1936 Sometime
{Charles finds a goose-boy named Garh in a lane north of Troth (I. s.v. Garh).}

April 30
{A. E. Housman dies (n. 920).}

July 20
{Queen Blenda’s blood ailment is much better.} Charles goes to a ball (n. 71).

July 21
Queen Blenda dies in the small hours. {Charles is told around 4 AM (n. 71, I.).}

July 22 to Aug. 30
Fleur de Fyler’s “courtship” of and three-day cohabitation with Charles (n. 71) occur during this period. [KP: August]

Aug. 30
Charles is crowned king of Zembla (n. 12, n. 71, n. 275, I.). {Baron Radomir Mandevil serves as his throne page (I, n. 130: 132–133; n. 149—the Index mentions only n. 130).}

c. 1936?
{The Shades spend a term at “Iph” while Hazel is “a mere tot” (ll. 502–509).} [In a note, KP dates this to “between (approximately) 1934 and 1940”, citing it as an example of an event he omits as “very vague”.]

{The undergraduates Kinbote mentions were probably born around this time.}

1937 May 10
{Maud Shade begins her scrapbook with an ad in Life for the Talon Trouser Fastener (l. 91).}

c. 1939
{Charles tries to translate Shade’s poetry into Zemblan (F).}

“Sometime in the forties”
{Gradus goes to Zembla as a brandy salesman (n. 17, 29). He has a variety of jobs in the glass business (n. 171). He marries a beader, the daughter of a publican (n. 17, 29, n. 697) and after she leaves him, lives in sin with his mother-in-law till her death. After that he tries to castrate himself and, with the help of an infection, is freed from lust (n. 697).}

Also probably sometime in the forties
{Hazel plays Mother Time in the school pantomime (ll. 309–314).}

1942 Summer
{Disa spends her last consecutive summer at the villa at Cap Turc (despite the Nazi occupation—but Zembla is apparently neutral, if the Second World War occurred in the world of the novel) (n. 433–434).}

Gordon Krummholz is born (I.).

1944 or 1945
{Dee Goldsworth is born (between February 1944 and February 1945, if she’s 14 when Kinbote moves in, or between the late summers or early autumns if she’s 14 when Kinbote writes his note—unless I’m giving him too much credit for precision) (n. 47–48).}

1946 or 1947
{Candida Goldsworth is born (n. 47–48).}

1947 July 5
Charles meets the nineteen-year-old Disa at a masked ball (n. 275).

1948 or 1949
{Betty Goldsworth is born (n. 47–48).}

1949 March 28
{Maud Shade makes the last entry in her scrapbook, an ad in Life for the Hanes Fig Leaf Brief (n. 91).}

Later that year
Maud Shade, at eighty, becomes paralyzed and aphasic and is hospitalized (ll. 195–208). {Sybil has Maud’s half-paralyzed Skye terrier destroyed, to Hazel’s distress (n. 230).}

King Charles marries Disa “almost two years” after meeting her, having prayed alone in the Onhava cathedral most of the night before (n. 71, n. 275, I.). [KP: first half of the year.] {During the next four years Kinbote tries and fails to have sex with her, her parents die, she finds out he’s homosexual, he promises several times to be faithful but never succeeds, and on a trip to an Italian lake he tells her he doesn’t love her (n. 433–434).}

1949 or 1950
{Alphina Goldsworth is born (n. 47–48).}

1950 January? [KP: late January–early February]
Maud Shade dies at the beginning of the year (n. 86–90, n. 230).

That day the Shades see a cicada’s molted integument and a dead ant on a pine trunk (ll. 237–240). [KP: Shade sees an anonymous message on the tree, but I don’t think “Espied on a pine’s trunk”, at the beginning of the next sentence and verse paragraph, refers to the message.]

Shortly thereafter, the Shades suffer poltergeist manifestations lasting nearly a month (n. 230).

Around this year, Paul Hentzner’s wife leaves him, taking their son, and Hentzner moves to town (n. 347). [KP: definitely 1950.]

An Exposition of Glass Animals is held in Zembla. The elder Countess de Fyler dies in a fire there. {Gradus helps lynch the tourists mistaken for arsonists. After the fire Disa befriends Fleur de Fyler. (n. 80).}

An explosion occurs in the Glass Works in Zembla (n. 149). [I took this to be the same event as the fire dated to 1950, which is possible if it was both an explosion and a fire, or the exposition lasted into 1951, or the Russian tourist is mistaken about its nature or the year. However, I think KP is right to make them two separate events.]

{Erich Fromm publishes The Forgotten Language, a book on symbolism in dreams and myths. Prof C. will quote it (n. 929).}

{Hazel Shade matriculates at Wordsmith. (The year is based on the assumption that she does so at 18.) Her trip to France may not be too far from this time.}

{Perhaps sometime in the next few years, Kinbote’s future gardener works as a nurse in a hospital for blacks in Maryland (l. 998).}

Exiled from Zembla for incompatibility, Disa returns to the Villa Disa (n. 433–434).

{The Bibliothèque de la Pléiade publishes an edition of A la recherche du temps perdu (n. 181).}

Conmal dies (I.). Charles complies with his dying request by beginning to teach at Onhava University (n. 12).

{Colonel Gusev, at seventy, is one of the greatest parachutists of all time (I.).}

1956 Sometime
Charles visits Disa for the second time since her exile (n. 433–434).

{A German academic and his wife, a Swede, attend a Sport Festival in Zembla and see King Charles (n. 894).}

The English translation of Charles’s book on surnames is published in Oxford (n. 894).

A student and his girlfriend are disturbed by rattling sounds and lights. The Wordsmith Gazette makes the story notorious, and psychic researchers visit. Hazel decides to investigate and gather data for a psychology paper. The first time, with Jane Provost, a thunderstorm drowns out any manifestations. A few nights later, Hazel goes by herself and receives a cryptic communication from a will-o-the-wisp. Returning home she’s frightened by her father waiting for her on the porch. On a later night, Hazel and her parents go the barn and wait in vain. {Shade complains to the authorities and the barn is razed (n. 347).}

Probably late 1950s
{Edsel Ford publishes the poem containing the two lines that Kinbote quotes (n. 603). The real poem, “The Image of Desire”, was published in 1961 (Roth 2007), the only discrepancy with real history that I know of.}

1957 Early in the year
Shade finishes Supremely Blest, his book on Pope (“recently” at the time of Hazel’s death) (l. 384).

Late winter (March?)
After a humiliating blind double-date, Hazel drowns (herself). (ll. 385–500, n. 293, I.). [KP places this in March, as does Boyd (1999: 89, 150). Indeed “Black spring/ Stood just around the corner” (ll. 495–496). Also, Shade refers to March in connection with Hazel’s death (l. 431, ll. 663–4) and the death of a child (ll. 583–4). Nevertheless, I can find nothing that explicitly dates Hazel’s suicide to March.]

{Not much time afterwards, Jane Provost tries to talk to the Shades. She later writes Sybil a long letter, never answered (n. 385–386).}

Paul Hurley, Jr., becomes head of the English Department at Wordsmith (n. 376–377).

{Baron Radomir Mandevil fights a duel (n. 169).}

1958 Sometime
{Shade sends “The Nature of Electricity” to The Beau and the Butterfly (n. 347).}

{The Shades hear noises, play chess (ll. 653–664). This could possibly be the previous March. However, Boyd (1999:150) places it “exactly a year” after Hazel’s death.}

May 1
The Zemblan Revolution breaks out. Disa writes a wild letter to Charles (n. 433–434). Soon (maybe the same day) the Soviet-backed Extremists depose Charles (n. 12, I.) and hold him captive in the South West Tower (n. 130: 119, 121). {Also Baron Bland, with help, removes the Crown Jewels from the palace to a hiding place; he then dies of a fall. (n. 681).}

After May 1
{The palace commandant reads Charles the letter from Disa (n. 433–434).}

{Romulus Arnor is executed (I.).}

The Shades, starting to recover from their grief, go to Italy (ll. 668–670).

{Around this time
Shade’s essays are published as The Untamed Seahorse and “universally acclaimed” (ll. 671–672).}

“Several weeks” before her next attempt, Disa flies to Stockholm in an attempt to help Charles, but is turned back by her loathed cousin “Curdy Buff” (n. 433–434). [KP: June]

Mid July
Two Russian experts, Andronnikov and Niagarin, begin searching the Onhava Palace for the Crown Jewels (n. 130: 129–131).

Mid August
Charles is accused of communicating with sympathizers by heliograph and moved from the tower to a “dismal lumber room”. He remembers the secret passage. Though Odon tries to convince him to postpone his attempt, after ostensibly going to bed Charles escapes to the theater, interrupting Odon in a performance of The Merman. The two run outside to Odon’s racing car (n. 130: 135). Odon drives west and up to Mandevil Forest, where he leaves Charles. Charles climbs Mt. Mandevil for two hours in the rainy night (repeating the opening couplet of Goethe’s “Erlkönig” in both German and Zemblan, n. 662) and takes shelter in the house of a farmer named Griff. The next morning he leaves (snubbing the farmer’s daughter’s sexual offer), sees an uncanny reflection of one of his impersonators, and crosses the mountains west to Blawick (n. 597–608). In Blawick he reunites with Odon, who takes him to the Rippleson Caves and a boat (n. 149, n. 597–608).

{Meanwhile Royalist pranksters impersonate him, one in a fixed-speed chase on a chairlift (n. 70). This chaff lasts “almost a year”, as the Extremist govenment thinks Charles is still in Zembla and tries to prevent his escape by air (n. 171).}

Disa, alarmed by rumors that Charles might be condemned to death, flies to Brussels and charters a plane, but a message from Odon tells her that Charles is out of Zembla and that she should return to Villa Disa and wait for further communications (n. 433–434).

Perhaps a bit later, Charles reclines on the sofa in Oswin Bretwit’s flat in Meudon (n. 286).

Early fall
Charles is in Nice and Mentone (n. 240).

August, September, October
{Sybil continues translating Marvell and Donne into French. Hurricane Lolita, Mars, the Shah’s wedding, Russian espionage, Sybil’s portrait (l. 677–682).}

Sometime in this period
{Charles shaves for the last time (n. 12).}

Andronnikov and Niagarin keep tearing apart the palace looking for the Crown Jewels (n. 681).

Charles visits Joe Lavender and Gordon Krummholz in Lex (n. 408) [KP]

Later in September: Joe Lavender tells Disa that a representative of her husband will visit her, but Charles himself visits her briefly, also seeing her friend and attendant Fleur de Fyler (n. 433–434).

Oct. 17
Shade has an apparent heart attack and “dies.” Dr. Ahlert treats him and reassures him wittily (ll. 682–728, n. 691, n. 727–728).

Oct. 18 or 19
Charles, henceforth called Kinbote, parachutes near Sylvia’s “manor” and converses with her (n. 691).

Oct. 20
Sylvia leaves for Africa (Monday). Kinbote continues to stay at her manor (n. 691). Sometime probably in the next year Sylvia divorces Lionel Lavender, Joe Lavender’s cousin (I.).

After Oct. 17
{Shade reads Jim Coates’s article about Mrs. Z.’s near-death experience, drives 300 miles west to interview both of them, is disappointed by the fountain-mountain misprint, and finds some “faint hope” (ll. 745–834).}

Nov. 1 or 2
Kinbote meets Billy Reading, president of Wordsmith, in New York. Kinbote spends the time till Christmas in the libraries of Washington and New York (n. 691).

Dec. 25
Kinbote spends Christmas in Florida (n. 691).

Late 1958 or early 1959
{After several months of impersonating Charles, Julius Steinmann is captured and shot by a firing squad. Surviving, he is treated in a hospital, where Gradus bursts in and shoots at him twice, missing both times. Steinmann disappears (n. 171).}

1959 Early or mid Jan.?
Classes start at Wordsmith College. Shade resumes teaching (n. 691) [but KP suggests that Shade resumes within two weeks after his attack, apparently because his recovery was “very speedy”].

Before Kinbote leaves for New Wye
{Kinbote writes Shade to introduce himself before moving in next door. The Shades never answer or mention the letter (n. 691).}

By Feb. 5
{Kinbote gets a powerful red Kramler car (FW: 19–20).}

Kinbote arrives in New Wye (FW: 19).

Between Kinbote’s arrival and (probably) his gardener’s moving in:
{Something involving advances and practical jokes happens between Kinbote and, presumably, Gerald Emerald (I s.v. Kinbote in reference to n. 741).}

Probably after this and before the murder of Shade (July 21)
{Kinbote goes to a student-faculty party where he demonstrates Zemblan wrestling and gets a note, which he takes to be from Gerald Emerald, accusing him of having hal.....s (n. 62).}

{Kinbote overhears Gerald Emerald referring to him as “the Great Beaver” and unties G. E.’s bow tie (FW: 24).}

Between Kinbote’s arrival and Shade’s birthday party (July 5)
{Kinbote comes to know “quite well” a relatively slight male student in the hotel school (n. 181).}

Between Kinbote’s arrival and (presumably) the murder of Shade—likely before the end of the term in May or June
{Kinbote criticizes a colleague and his or her course, and Dr. Nattochdag cautions him about it (FW: 24–25).}

{A drama students’ skit caricatures Kinbote (FW: 25).}

Feb. 5
Kinbote moves into the Goldsworth chateau (FW: 19). Boyd (1999: 97–98) notes that Kinbote encounters the name “Alphina”, explores the Goldsworth girls’ closet (which he associates with Charles’s escape), and reads or is reminded of Forever Amber and The Prisoner of Zenda. Thus Boyd suggests that at this point Kinbote starts developing the similar elements of Zembla: the name “Alfin”, the secret passage leading out of the closet, and much of the atmosphere. Indeed he suggests that all of Zembla may begin here.

Feb. 7? 8?
Kinbote sees the Shades having trouble getting out of their icy driveway (“one of my first mornings there”) (FW: 19–20). [KP: February 9–14 (approximately)].

Feb. 16
Kinbote meets Shade at lunch at the Faculty Club (FW:20–22).

A few days after Feb. 16
Kinbote gives Shade a ride home via Community Center, where Sybil introduces herself. {By this time Kinbote is using his new name, as Sybil knows it. Later he has “a kind of a little seminar... with two charming identical twins and another boy, another boy” (Bad Bob?) (FW: 22–23).}

Kinbote entertains himself by spying on the Shades (FW: 23–24). [KP: this starts in the last week of February.]

Between Feb. 16 and probably July 3, certainly including May and June
Kinbote tells Shade his stories of Zembla. I suggest July 3 for the final date since Kinbote writes “finally” about his diary entry of that date, which follows a series of entries about pressing Shade to write (n. 42).

Between the beginning of Kinbote’s narrations and the murder of Shade
{Kinbote hears a changed version of the “what emperor?” story (n. 71).}

{The German academic mentioned under 1956, now a visiting lecturer at Wordsmith, suspects that Kinbote is the ex-King. While trying to change the subject, Shade mentions the surname book, revealing Kinbote’s identity (as Botkin or, from Kinbote’s point of view, as King Charles) unless our commentator had used “Kinbote” for his pen name in 1956. Gerald Emerald insults the King, and Kinbote snubs his apology (n. 894).}

Late Feb.?
{Kinbote shows Shade some of Judge Goldsworth’s notes, having saved them at least two weeks (n. 47–48).}

Sometime in March
{Shade, Kinbote, and Bob go to a “dreary get-together party” at Prof. C.’s house. Mrs. C. snickers as Kinbote helps Shade find his galoshes (FW: 24, 27).}

March 14
Kinbote attends a dinner party at the Shades’. {Sometime after this and probably before May 23, Kinbote has the Shades over for dinner along with the son of a padishah (n. 579).}

March 21? 22?
Bob takes a color snapshot of Kinbote and Shade (FW: 26).

March 28?
While Shade takes a bath, Kinbote talks with him about a reference Kinbote is to look up on his trip to Washington, but neither can remember what it is (n. 887–888). [KP: March 29]

March 28? 29?
Kinbote is in Washington. {Bob uses this absence to entertain a girlfriend.} This is a week after Prof. C.’s party, and it seems reasonable to put Kinbote’s trip on a weekend (FW: 26–27).

March 30
Kinbote, back from Washington, evicts Bob (FW: 27, n. 802). {For the next several nights Kinbote suffers from fear. Possibly during this period, Kinbote sees the Goldsworths’ cat with a white bow around its neck and, believing someone has broken in, calls the police (n. 62).}

April 2
Kinbote writes to Disa about his night fears and living next to Shade. The letter includes his alias and the address of Wordsmith University (n. 768, I.).

Early April?
After an embarrassment at the college swimming pool, Kinbote meets a needy young black man who starts gardening for him the next day (n. 998).

{As leaves block Kinbote’s view, he gets more bold and proficient about spying on the Shades (n. 47–49).}

“Soon after Easter” (which is March 29)
{Kinbote’s gardener moves in and his nocturnal fears stop (n. 62). Sometime thereafter, Kinbote finds that his gardener is “impotent” (n. 998).}

April 6
Kinbote receives a letter from Disa containing Shade’s “The Sacred Tree” (n. 49). Is this too fast to be an answer to his letter?

Still April
Kinbote has recently hired the gardener. The subject of anti-Semitism comes up at the Faculty Club, after which Shade and Kinbote discuss Prejudice and the term “colored” (n. 470).

Late April through early May?
{Spring bird migration in Appalachia, presumably the peak of Kinbote’s bird identification with his gardener’s help (n. 1–4).}

{It’s announced that Odon is in Paris, and the Extremist government in Zembla conjectures that the ex-king has left the country. The Shadows determine to hunt him down (n. 171). This is probably late in spring, as it’s “almost a year” after the king escaped in August, and it shouldn’t be too long before Gradus draws the fatal card on July 2.}

May 23
Kinbote attends a second souper chez Shade. {Sometime, probably after this and before giving Shade the plan of the palace, he has the Shades over for a second dinner, with his gardener as the other guest (n. 579).}

May or June
{Kinbote and Shade look for Shade’s grandfather’s pamphlets in Shade’s basement, and Kinbote sees the clockwork toy, in the form of a black man, that Shade was playing with when he had his first fainting spell (n. 143).}

During an evening stroll, Kinbote tells Shade the story of himself and Disa and encourages Shade to include it in the poem (n. 433–434). [KP: May.] Since people (including me) have asked on the mailing list NABOKV-L how the insane Kinbote could get a teaching job, I’ll point out that this could be the first time he mentions Zembla to anyone.

End of May
{Kinbote can “make out the outlines of some of my images in the shape his genius might give them” (n. 42).}

Kinbote has at least nine sunset rambles with Shade (n. 238). {One of this month’s rambles might well be when Shade points out the site where Hentzner’s barn stood, as most of the plants Kinbote mentions would be blooming. The exception is the goldenrod, which would not bloom till after Shade’s death, but Kinbote might have called some other plant goldenrod. (n. 347).}

At some point Kinbote draws and gives Shade a plan of the Onhava Palace. He stays for lunch (n. 71). {Probably sometime after this, he has the Shades over for dinner with the blonde in the black leotard as the other guest (n. 570).}

Mid June
{Kinbote feels sure Shade will write a poem about Zembla and increases his efforts to “saturate” Shade with Zemblan stories (n. 42).}

June 23
Kinbote and Shade play “a game of chess, a draw” and then converse on Kinbote’s terrace about sin, God, and the afterlife (n. 549).

Late June

According to Shade’s obituary, this is when he writes “The Swing” {though Kinbote believes it dates to shortly after Hazel’s death (n. 61).}

June to mid July

{Shade recites an obscure friend’s poetry at a Summer School party at the Hurleys’, and Kinbote hears Shade and Mrs. H. discuss an insane porter, or Kinbote himself (n. 629).}

July 2
At 12:05 AM Zemblan time, Gradus is chosen by a show of cards to assassinate Kinbote (n. 171).

Shortly after midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Shade starts “Pale Fire” (FW: 13, n. 1–4).

{Meanwhile Kinbote plays chess with an Iranian summer student (n. 1–4).}

July 3
Sybil tells Kinbote that Shade has begun a poem but will not discuss it till he finishes it (n. 47–48). {Kinbote notes in his diary, “poem begun!” (n. 42).}

That night Kinbote infers that the Shades are making love (n. 181).

{Between here and July 21
One morning Kinbote sees Shade burning index cards that bore unneeded drafts (FW: 14).}

July 4
Shade finishes Canto 1 (FW: 13) including Card 9 (n. 109) {and the card supposedly bearing the supposed variant about the secret corridor, which Kinbote later acknowledges is his (n. 130: 128)}.

In the evening, Kinbote drives a young friend 200 miles to his home, where Kinbote attends two all-night parties (n. 181).

{Oswin Bretwit suffers a pain in his groin that keeps him awake this night and the next two (n. 286).}

July 5
Shade’s sixty-first birthday. He starts Canto 2 (FW: 13, l. 181, n. 181) and reaches line 208.

Kinbote breakfasts at the second party and returns home. In the evening Shade gives his birthday party, which the uninvited Kinbote watches (n. 181).

At noon Zemblan time, Gradus leaves Onhava for Copenhagen, synchronized with Shade’s waking up (n. 1–4, n.181).

July 6
At 3 AM Shade returns to his desk and brings his poem up to line 230. At sunrise (4:30), Kinbote infers that the Shades are making love. In the morning, Kinbote delivers to Sybil his present for John and the third volume of A la recherche du temps perdu (n. 181).

Later, Shade writes at least the next card (n. 231).

In the evening, Shade and Kinbote go on a ramble, with Sybil accompanying them part of the way, and Shade refuses to discuss his progress on his poem (n. 238, n. 802).

As Shade reaches line 230, Gradus and the Zemblan consul in Copenhagen buy clothes for Gradus to wear in later notes (shortly before noon Copenhagen time) (l. 181).

July 7
Shade’s writings include lines 286–299 (n. 286, n. 287). Kinbote, on his way to Dr. Ahlert’s office for a 3:30 appointment, runs into the Shades and learns from them and Dr. Ahlert that they’re planning to rent the Hurleys’ ranch in Cedarn in August. Kinbote gets information from a travel agency (n. 287).

Gradus flies to Paris, telephones Oswin Bretwit from the airport, and has a futile interview with him (n. 286).

July 8
Oswin Bretwit dies during surgery (n. 286, I.).

July 10
Shade’s writing includes lines 406–416 and another card (n. 403–404).

Gradus drives from Geneva to Lex, where Odon is resting at Joe Lavender’s villa. Gradus is shown around by Gordon Krummholz, who mentions that the King had gone to the Côte d’Azur, but Lavender sends Gradus away by phone (n. 403–404). [KP: He stands at the road bay where the King had stood the previous September.] {Back in Geneva, Gradus has an incoherent phone conversation with Headquarters, who think he’s suggested breaking into the Villa Disa to look for letters with the ex-king’s address (n. 470).}

Around this time [KP: July 10], Kinbote mails a booking for a cabin near the Shades’ (n. 287.) [KP]

July 11
Shade finishes Canto 2 (FW: 13).

Kinbote prowls around the Shades’ house, sees them crying, and accidentally bangs a garbage can but (believes he) isn’t discovered (n. 47–49).

Gradus visits a Finnish bathhouse and sees his bare feet for the last time until July 21 (n. 949).

[KP: July 12: Shade starts Canto 4. This seems very likely, but he could have taken a day off.]

Mid July
{Kinbote sees his plan of the Onhava Palace in a storage niche in the Shades’ house (n. 71). (This could be at his intrusion of July 15.)}

July 14
{Shade’s writings include line 596 (n. 596).}

Around this day (“a week before Shade’s death”) a clubwoman tells Kinbote in a grocery store that he is remarkably disagreeable and insane (FW: 25). [KP: Definitely July 14, and the woman is “Dr. Sutton’s daughter (the president of Sybil’s women’s club)”. His identification follows if New Wye has only one women’s club and she’s the president.]

{Gradus, having fretted in his hotel in Geneva for four days, telegraphs Headquarters to say he’s moving to the Hotel Lazuli in Nice (n. 596).}

July 15
{Kinbote waits in vain for Shade (I. s.v. Shade, reference given as 338 instead of the correct 334) to go on a promised walk.} Eventually he intrudes into the Shades’ house, but Shade begs off (n. 47–48, this being St. Swithin’s Day).

Gradus lands in Nice in the early afternoon and sees but doesn’t recognize the Shadow Izumrudov as well as Andronnikov and Niagarin. He learns from the cab driver taking him to his hotel that Disa has gone to Italy for the rest of July (n. 697). [KP gives her departure date as “July 1 (approximately)”.]

That night or early the next morning, Andronnikov and Niagarin break into the Villa Disa and find, among other things, Kinbote’s letter of April 2 with his work address (n. 741).

July 16
[KP: Shade writes lines 698–746 (n. 741).]

Izumrudov gives Gradus the information about Kinbote and orders him to America to continue his mission (n. 741).

July 18
Gradus travels by train to Paris (n. 949).

That night, or in the early morning of July 19, Shade writes card 65 (second part of line 797 to line 809) (n. 802).

July 19
Kinbote prays in two churches. As he gets home, he hallucinates Shade calling to him. When he reaches Shade, he breaks down in tears, on which Shade agrees to go on a ramble with him at eight. By then Shade has finished Canto 3 and started Canto 4. He cuts the ramble short to return to writing (FW: 13–14, n. 802, n. 835–838).

July 20
Shade begins writing with line 873 (n. 873). He cites Pope in a footnote on Zembla (n. 937), which Kinbote strangely doesn’t reproduce.

{At the same time, at Orly airport, Gradus boards a jetliner for America (n. 873).} He arrives in New York {in a thunderstorm and after finding that the early flight is full and the train is inconvenient, makes a plane reservation (n. 949).}

July 21
Shade starts with line 949 (n. 949).

[KP: In the morning, Jack Grey escapes from the Institute for the Criminally Insane.] This seems likely, though he could have escaped earlier.

{Gradus passes time in New York learning all kinds of interesting information from the New York Times, among other things. The “pro-Red revolt in Iraq” may have been “a confused uprising of Kurds, Communists, Moslem factions, and Army troops” on July 14 around Kirkuk; it was suppressed bloodily by July 20 (Dupuy and Dupuy 1977: 1282). Gradus checks in at the airport at 2 PM and arrives in New Wye after 5, not feeling so good. He reaches the Wordsmith campus, and after various good and bad directions and a glimpse of Kinbote in the library, he gets a ride from Gerald Emerald to within sight of Kinbote’s house (n. 949).}

{Kinbote gets home from the library and finds that Shade is nearly finished with the poem. He induces Shade to come over for Tokay and walnuts (n. 991). A Red Admiral cavorts around them in the evening light (n. 993–995).} As they arrive at Kinbote’s house, Jack Grey or Jakob Gradus, who has been waiting, shoots at them. Several bullets miss, but one kills Shade. {The gardener subdues Grey with a spade, and Kinbote calls the police, who arrest Grey. Sybil arrives.}

Probably that night, believing from the gardener’s testimony that Kinbote had tried to shield Shade, Sybil brings up the possibility of recompense and agrees to let Kinbote edit the poem. [KP places Sybil’s decision on July 22.] Kinbote puts the poem under the Goldsworth girls’ boots {and then moves them to his valise (FW: 16, n. 1000).}

July 22
{Kinbote reads the poem at daybreak and is bitterly disappointed to find no mention of Zembla, but rereads it later and likes it better, partly because he finds gleams of Zembla in it, especially in the variants. Could he start contributing his own variants this early (n. 1000)?}

“Immediately after Shade’s death”
Sybil and Kinbote sign a contract according to which he’ll edit “Pale Fire” without remuneration (FW: 16).

{Could this be about the time (“later”) when Kinbote learns what epithets Sybil applied to him behind his back (n. 247)?}

{Most or all of the Gradus story must date from this point.}

“Immediately upon John Shade’s demise”
Prof. Hurley circulates a mimeographed letter expressing concern over Kinbote’s editing the poem (n. 376–377).

July 22–29
Kinbote circulates in New Wye with the poem sewn into his clothes. He interviews Jack Grey once or twice. Grey “confesses” that he is Gradus, the Shadows’ regicide. {After the first interview, Kinbote, reads the July 21New York Times in the Wordsmith University Library (WUL). Unless his “it has been a wonderful game” is his mistake or Nabokov’s for “it was...”, he also writes at least the part of n. 949a summarizing stories he found (Dowling 2003, n. 949a), though this would contradict his mention of not being able to write the Commentary until he reaches Cedarn (FW: 17).} “A few days” after the last interview, Grey kills himself (n. 1000, I.).

July 24
In a newspaper interview a “professed Shadean” [KP: Professor C.] says “Pale Fire” is fragmentary (FW: 14).

Perhaps at this point Kinbote sees Professors H. and C. as a pair of experts bent on gaining control of the poem. Boyd (1999: 100–102) suggests they’re the models for Andronnikov and Niagarin, in which case it would be starting here that Kinbote incorporates the latter pair into the escape and Gradus stories (nn. 130, 681, 741).

July 25
Sybil Shade states in a document (her contract with Kinbote?) that Shade “never intended to go beyond four parts” (FW: 14).

July 25–29
During “the last week of July”, the August issue of the Nouvelle Revue Canadienne, with two translations by Sybil, appears in New Wye. {Kinbote makes critical notes but doesn’t communicate them to Sybil (n. 678).} [KP: August]

{Sybil leaves New Wye before Kinbote does (FW: 18).}

July 29
Kinbote flies from New Wye to NY after a “lugubrious week” (FW: 17, n. 1000).

July 29 or shortly thereafter
{Kinbote has the manuscript of “Pale Fire” photographed. At sunset, he rejects one of Shade’s publishers for accepting “Professor So-and-so” as an editorial adviser (FW: 17–18).}

Probably the next day
Kinbote makes a publication deal with “good old Frank” (FW: 18). [KP: “August (first week)”]

Not long after this
{Either Kinbote returns to New Wye to get his car or he acquires a new one, as his trip to Cedarn is by car (n. 71).}

Before Aug. 21
Prof. Hurley writes an Appreciation of Shade’s works. (“Within a month” may suggest that it’s more than a week or two.) Sometime after this, en route from New York to Cedarn, Kinbote spends a couple of days in Chicago, where he sees this obituary (n. 71) and meets Jane Provost. Jane gives him information about Hazel and the Haunted Barn incident. {Pete Provost is, “alas, selling automobiles in Detroit” (n. 385–386).}

Sometime in August?
{Kinbote takes up residence in his cabin in Cedarn.}

After this
{Kinbote sends Sybil a letter with queries about the poem (FW: 18).}

Early September?
The weather gets cooler, the tourists leave, including those whose music Kinbote mistook for an amusement park, and the “little blue-jeaned fisherman” stops fishing near Kinbote’s cabin (n. 609–614, I. s.v. Kinbote with reference to that note).

At least a month after Kinbote’s letter
{Sybil sends Kinbote a telegram asking him to accept Professors C. and H. as co-editors (FW: 18).}

Late September
The aspen leaves fall—the part of Utana near the Idoming border is probably not too different from southeastern Wyoming, where the aspen color peaks in the last two weeks of September (Moulton n. d., n. 609–614).

[KP: “October: Kinbote reads the Letters of Franklin Lane.” (My boldface and italics.) I don’t know why he places this in October (n. 810).]

Sometime in here
{A newspaper reprints Shade’s poem “Mountain View” (n. 92).}

{In the first version of this chronology, I left out any discussion of Kinbote’s writing in Cedarn because of the lack of definite dates. However, Bellino (2006) and Gwynn (2007) have attempted reconstructions in NABOKV-L. The following tentative and equivocal version draws on them.

Kinbote types up the poem. (This could happen in New Wye.)

Kinbote writes most of the Commentary. He writes note 12 before note 550 and probably writes note 230 before note 347 (“...as I have said in an earlier note, he never cared to refer to his dead child”). Quite possibly he writes the Commentary in the printed order or nearly so.

Sometime early in his stay in Cedarn, Kinbote writes some of the Foreword, including the references to an amusement park (FW: 13), “and damn that music” (15), “malicious, rotating music” (19), and a carrousel (28). This should be early because he can’t take many days to realize that the radio “across the road” (n. 609–614) is not an amusement park. On the other hand, his mention in the Foreword of Sybil’s telegram must date to at least a month after he arrives in Cedarn. As this is in the paragraph before the “malicious, rotating music,”, Kinbote clearly doesn’t write the Foreword in a short time or in the printed order.

Kinbote sends Frank his manuscript, either just the poem or some or all of his Foreword and Commentary too.

A proofreader checks the text of the poem and makes a few minor corrections (FW: 18).

Frank sends Kinbote the galley proofs. Kinbote revises them, adding his editorial material if he hadn’t before.

Kinbote writes “My slip—change to sixty-first.” (n. 167) and “(no, delete this craven ‘perhaps’)” (n. 920) either on the galley proofs or later on the page proofs, forgetting to circle these instructions to keep them from being typeset (Bellino 2006). (If he writes “my slip” on the galleys, they may well include the Foreword and Commentary; the other comments might be Kinbote’s marginal or interlinear notes in his typescript, but a good reason for him to take the blame is that someone else has worked on what he’s correcting.)

Frank acknowledges receipt of the corrected galleys with a note asking Kinbote to take responsibility for any errors in the Commentary (FW: 18). He sends Kinbote the page proofs.

Kinbote makes changes to the Foreword and Commentary in the page proofs. His changes to the Foreword include the sentences about Frank’s receipt of the galleys and request for a disclaimer. He fails to circle his instruction “Insert before a professional.” (Bellino 2006). As Kinbote would need the index cards of the poem to make sure no errors had appeared in the page proofs, his looking at the cards “for the last time” and putting them in a manila envelope, with his simultaneous description of doing so, would probably be here or later (FW: 15).

Kinbote writes the cross-references in the Foreword and Commentary. At least one of them seems to be written after the note that contains it, since Kinbote says, “I have considered in my earlier note (I now see it is the note to line 171)...”, as makes sense considering the many references to later notes. In general, though, the cross-references may not tell us much about chronology. On the one hand, many of them could refer to things Kinbote has planned but hasn’t written yet. On the other, Bellino (2006) places the cross-references “perhaps” at the stage of correcting the page proofs, making them later than the passages they appear in.

Kinbote starts the Index. Bellino (2006) notes that an index is always written after the receipt of the page proofs, but Kinbote’s index refers only to line numbers, not page numbers, so he could have written at least part of it earlier. Indeed he could have written a few of the Index entries—the Crown Jewels chase and Kobaltana, Igor II, and the Shadows—before anything else, as they don’t refer to any note. (Neither does the entry on “marrowsky”, but it must refer to n. 347.)

Kinbote writes n. 609–614. Since he describes the aspens as “withered”, it must be the very end of September or sometime in October. His mention of “trying to coordinate these notes” could mean adding the cross-references. Maybe he writes the note late in his work on the Commentary, after he writes the Foreword, which would allow for the possibility that the variant is Shade’s but would leave little time to produce the galleys and page proofs between aspen-turning and Oct. 19. Or maybe he writes the note as a change to the galleys or the page proofs.

On or shortly before Oct. 19

Kinbote stops work on the Index, leaving the entry for Zembla unfinished

Oct. 19
Kinbote finishes the Foreword. His changes include (and may be limited to) the date at the end. He may send the corrected proofs back to Frank—unless what we read is those proofs, found in his cabin.}

Kinbote commits suicide (Nabokov 1973: 74). [Correct date from KP.]

1979 July 1
{An $11,000,000 note for the Decker Glass Manufacturing Company comes due (n. 949).}


I thank several people for kindly helping me. D. Barton Johnson pointed me to Pilon’s chronology. Jansy Mello corrected an error in a draft of this chronology that appeared on NABOKV-L. Matthew Roth corrected an error, mentioned that Kinbote and Botkin could alternate, discussed the loud music in Cedarn, and helped with a reference. Dieter E. Zimmer pointed out an omission and an overly certain conclusion on the month of Hazel’s suicide.

Works Cited

Bellino, Mary. “Bookishness, ‘metastory,’ and the timeline of PF.” Posting to NABOKV-L. October 29, 2006. Accessed August 14, 2008.

Boyd, Brian. “‘Even Homais Nods’: Nabokov’s Fallibility, Or, How to Revise Lolita.Nabokov Studies2 (1995): 60–85. Reprinted in Zembla.

Boyd, Brian. Nabokov’s Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Dowling, William C. “Who’s the Narrator of Nabokov’s Pale Fire?” 2003. Accessed February 18, 2008.

Dupuy, R. Ernest, and Dupuy, Trevor N. The Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present. London: Macdonald and Jane’s, 1977.

Gwynn, R. S. “THOUGHTS & QUERIES: Pale Fire Chronology”. Posting to NABOKV-L. October 17, 2007. Accessed August 14, 2008.

Moulton, Candy. “Wyoming’s Fall Colors.” Wyoming Travel and Tourism. Accessed August 14, 2008.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Strong Opinions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.

Pilon, Kevin. “A Chronology of Pale Fire.” A Book of Things About Vladimir Nabokov. Ed. Carl Proffer. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1974, pp. 218–225.

Roth, Matthew. “Three Allusions in Pale Fire.” The Nabokovian58 (Spring 2007): 53–60.

Tromholt, Sophus. “A Note Relating to the History of the Aurora Borealis.&rdquoNature32 (1885), 89–90. Accessed August 17, 2008. Site license required.

Zimmer, Dieter. Kalender der Romanhandlung. Fahles Feuer. By Vladimir Nabokov. Trans. Uwe Friesel and Dieter Zimmer. Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2008.

Average Overall Rating: 4.5
Total Votes: 253

The Crown Jewels
Kinbote makes several references to the crown jewels of Zembla. These are hidden somewhere outside of the royal palace, but he does not reveal their location. In the note to line 130, he gives a detailed description of the Russians searching for the crown jewels in the wrong place. In the note to line 681, he describes the Russians as attractive men who were much more jovial than the average Russian in the new communist state. And, in the note to line 949, he writes that Gradus stowed away his coat and suitcase in a locker "where, I suppose, they are still lying as snug as my gemmed scepter, ruby necklace, and diamond-studded crown in-no matter, where."
As is the case with everything else in this text, there is no hard and fast meaning to be attached to these jewels. Could it be a reference to the lost glory of Russia before the revolution? Could it be an attempt to validate Kinbote's claim to royalty? Could it be some personal glory he feels he has lost? These are all possible.
The index is no help. If you look up "crown jewels," it will direct you to "Hiding Place." This entry then directs you to "potaynik," which then directs you to "taynik," which is the very helpful entry of "Taynik, Russ., secret place; see Crown Jewels." Nabokov is simply playing a game with the reader, and for years, no one knew where these jewels are supposed to be. However, in 1967, Nabokov revealed to an interviewer that they are "In the ruins, sir, of some old barracks near Kobaltana; but do not tell it to the Russians." Kobaltana, by the way, is also listed in the index, if you are interested in further pursuing Nabokov's little game.
Antipathy towards symbols
Readers may be wondering why Nabokov would include something that seems like a symbol but turns out to be a red herring. Such readers are well advised to look at the note for line 172, in which Kinbote reports that Shade felt there were certain unforgivable acts in student papers "Not having read the required book. Having read it like an idiot. Looking in it for symbols." Shade is not a very symbolic writer, instead writing in images and telling a story. Kinbote may be a symbolic writer, but there is no way to ever figure out for certain what events in Zembla symbolize in his real life. Both seem to agree that a work of literature can be ruined by being picked apart for symbols.
Shade falls prey to a symbol, the white fountain. However, this is a red herring much like the crown jewels, as it turns out to be a typographical error. Relying on symbols led him on a wild goose chase, much like the search for the crown jewels.

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