Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nabokov prognosticates Sarah Palin!

Sarah Palin is already in the literary news this month for the announcement that she is going to "write" a "book" (by which I mean "hire someone to ghostwrite" a "pop cultural artifact"), but check out these two passages that I just came across in Vladimir Nabokov's hilarious 1962 novel Pale Fire. In the first, deposed king and loquacious protagonist Charles Kinbote is describing the mountains of his native land of Zembla:

...a few peaks rise some two thousand feet higher and retain their snow in midsummer; and from one of them, the highest and hardest, Mt. Glitterntin, one can distinguish on clear days, far out to the east, beyond the Gulf of Surprise, a dim iridescence which some say is Russia.

If this isn't enough to justify a vice-presidential candidacy for Kinbote, check this out, from the very next page...Kinbote here is referring to himself in the third person:

His mother was an American, from New Wye in New England. She is said to have been the first woman in the world to shoot wolves, and, I believe, other animals, from an airplane.

Two years before the former Alaska governor's birth, no less! The man was even more talented than I thought.

6 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

Apparently there were stories about this in newspapers back in the 1950s, and quite possibly Nabokov had seen them. If you like I can send you a pdf or jpeg of the Kansas City Star, 1958, with a story headlined, "Reds Use 'Copters to Hunt Wolves."

jrlennon said...

Heck, I wouldn't mind seeing that!

I loved the way Nabokov devoured American popular culture...

jon said...

Ada is set in an imaginary country that is a conflation of Russia and the US and I think is explicitly located in a temperate Alaska. Nabokov was like Joyce I think, with Russia instead of Ireland as locus. Alaska is the liminal zone between the two opposites of Russia and America. He of course also knew petty fascist thinking when he saw it, as well as bizarre, self-serving fantasies...

Peter said...

Sarah Pale-in Fire

Stephen said...

Great quotes. Another literary prognostication of Sarah Palin, in male form, is Buzz Windrip in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here. Trope for trope, it's her.

jon said...

she's an american archetype