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Cohen 14

for vulgarizing and literalizing his interest in death. After learning to his bemused

embarrassment that Mrs.

Z.'s

"fountain" is misprinted from "mountain,"Shade

resolves to aestheticize his exploration of death, seeking in the world around him "a

web of sense"

(63,l.

810): "Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find Some

/

kind

of

link-and-bobolink, some

kind /

Of correlated pattern in the game, Plexed artistry,

/

and something of the same Pleasure in it as they who played it found"

/

(63,ll. 811-

15).

Shade decides, in other words, that he can understand death only indirectly, by

mimicking

in the creation of poetry the networks of playful correspondence wrought

by an "aloof and mute," otherworldly "they" (1. 818). He connects this artistic ethos

with his deepest personal suffering in Canto Four, where he declares: "I feel I

understand Existence, or at least a minute part Of my existence, only through my

/

/

art, In terms of combinational delight"

/

(68-69'11. 970-73),

adding that "I'm

reasonably sure that we survive And that my darling somewhere is alive"

/

(69,l.

977-78). The irony, of course, is that minutes after Shade cozily writes he is

"reasonably sure that I / Shall

wake

at six tomorrow, on July The twenty-second,

/

nineteen fifty-nine,

/

And that the day will probably be fine"

(69,ll. 979-82),

he is

shot by an escaped mental patient who mistakes him for his judge and jailer. Shade's

conviction that he can wrest meaning from the world and his daughter's death by

spinning webs of poetry seems to be completely overturned.

But the murder allows Kinbote to acquire the manuscript from a distraught

Sybil Shade, and, when it becomes immediately clear that the poem is not an epic

tribute to King Charles the Beloved, to use it as a vehicle for the transmission of his

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