“Like lucid Pnin, whoever searches
for the key and the solution is
engaged in a hard struggle against
a world ruled by an evil designer.
There is light in the word lucid.
And “evil designer”—that’s the key
term of a Gnostic worldview.”
—Michael Maar, Speak, Nabokov
It was winter at Rozhdestveno…
I forgot why I left the party at the mansion, passing alone thru the front door between the two twin pillars, the lines of which formed a perfect ex libris from a Nabokovian novel…
And wandered out along the Oredezh River into the dark stillness, peopled only by firs, dark and gaunt, walking under the sullen red glow of the sky, scudding with low-hanging clouds on the verge of arson, along a path surely Vlad had walked as a boy.
I could feel the Russian chill of 1917, the crunch of snow beneath my feet, Uncle Ruka giving me the estate, the Revolution taking it away from me, later in a dream telling me he would come back to me as a clown, Stanley Kubrik, restoring everything I lost and asserting his love for me once again.
Here I am now, a guest at the Montreaux Palace Hotel, sitting on a bench out front of my Switzerland home, thumbing thru my card catalog, my index card universe for Ada.
And like Pnin, swooping away from Seattle to Wordsmith College, New Wye, Appalachia, USA—finding myself in Pale Fire, this strange novel within a novel. Chairman of the Slavics Dept—a colleague of both Professor Shade and Kinbote.