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Cohen 36

first, "in the case of the narrative question of the elliptical, incomplete structure of the

enigma, he answers with the riddle's missing word, with the mystery's solution: the

governess's sexual desire for the Master" (104-5); second, he answers "the thematic

question of uncanny strangeness" (105) with a diagnosis of the ghosts as hallucinated

symptoms of this repressed desire; and third, he answers "the rhetorical question of

symbolic ambiguity" with "the literal meaning of the phallic metaphors," their

"proper name" (105). In Wilson's kind of Freudian reading, one that poses and

answers these questions, the critic considers it his task to "pull the answer out of its

hiding place," where it is

"concealed'

(105).

Brian Boyd makes similar assumptions about the critic's role in his reading of

Pale Fire. His "solution" to the text, however, is explicitly supernatural:

Shade composes his poem, dies, and then helps Kinbote orchestrate his

Commentary. Behind her father's life, and before his death, his dead

daughter, with help from his dead parents, inspires both Kinbote's Zembla and

through it the controlled convolutions of her father's poem. Beyond them all,

Nabokov determines the patterns of their world, precisely because he in turn

suspects that something beyond him shapes his world and ours. (242)

The content of this argument is less significant than its presentation. Boyd is offering

the solution to the puzzle or mystery, the final page that we should only read last-we

could easily imagine it printed upside down or in mirror-writing-so as to avoid

giving away the story. (As he says, his arguments "would be spoiled

[258]

if given

away too soon.) Indeed, Boyd argues in his conclusion against the complaint that his

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