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Cohen 34

Although "the very expert solver" seems to come to the same solution as the "the

unsophisticated," it is the process of solving that distinguishes them. "Having passed

through the pleasurable torments" prepared by Professor Nabokov, this "very expert

solver" is edified and promoted to an "ultrasophisticated solver." To experience

"poignant artistic delight," the solver submits to a rigidly determined game, a lesson

plan that allows the student only the choice of participation. Once we choose to

participate in the game, we cannot help but play according to Nabokov's rules,

dutifully responding to "an illusory pattern of play based on a fashionable avant-garde

theme." Arguing that Pale Fire embodies this chess problem concept, Boyd

structures his argument to match the

thetic,

antithetic, and synthetic stages of solving,

having them correspond roughly to the experience of first, second, and additional

readings of the novel (13). By deploying Nabokov's chess problem description as a

model for reading, Boyd presents what he sees as the proper Nabokovian reading of

Pale Fire. We know Nabokov has a plan for us, such a reading implies, and it is our

task to

make

it manifest.

Nabokov's chess problem reverie bears a striking resemblance to Henry

James' stated project in writing The Turn of the Screw, presented in his Preface to the

New York edition:

It is an excursion into chaos while remaining, like Blue-Beard and Cinderella,

but an anecdote-though an anecdote amplified and highly emphasized and

returning upon itself; as for that matter, Cinderella and Blue-Beard return. I

need scarcely add after this that it is a piece of ingenuity pure and simple, of

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