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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 18 / 69

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Cohen 15

narrative. Still, Kinbote's grandiose paranoia, ever incorporating new details and

individuals into his self-referential delusions, refuses to allow that the killer is

anything less than a regicidal assassin. It becomes difficult for Kinbote "to make

people calmly see-without having them immediately scream and hustle me-the

truth of the tragedy-a tragedy in which I had been not a 'chance witness' but the

protagonist, and the main, if only potential, victim" (299). Kinbote solves this

problem by reinventing Grey as

Gradus,

claiming to have conducted "an interview,

perhaps even two interviews" (299) before the prisoner's suicide, and winding the

mechanism of this "clockwork man" (152) so as to synchronize his forward

movement with that of "Pale Fire": "We shall accompany

Gradus

in constant

thought," he announces early in the Commentary, "as he makes way from distant dim

Zembla to green Appalachia, through the entire length of the poem"

(78),

propelled

by Shade's "powerful iambic motor" (136).

Gradus

and Shade thus form two strands of plot that grow ever closer, and the

point of their intersection is simultaneously the moment of Shade's death and the

origin of the novel. With this "primal scene" securely in place, Kinbote establishes a

web of connections between poem and commentary through his cross-references, and

we are invited to make connections of our own between Shade and Kinbote, Zembla

and New Wye. Poem and commentary cooperate in impelling us forward to this

climax, a moment of revelation Kinbote and Nabokov have promised and prepared us

for since the first mention of Shade's death in the novel's opening

It is a

~entence.~

The narrative structure is similar in Despair, in which, Helen

Oakley

writes, "the identity of the

murderer is revealed quite early on. The book is given its driving force then not by an investigation

into the identity of the murderer, but through interest in how the victim and murderer, like two parallel

lines, will converge at a point in the end" (487).

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