suffers from classical paranoia in all its three main forms," namely "delusions of
grandeur'' (Kinbote's belief that he is the exiled king of Zembla), "erotic paranoia"
(his being convinced of Shade's deep love and esteem for him, despite evidence
suggesting otherwise), and "persecution mania" (his fear of assassination) (60). Note
that Boyd uses the language of absolute conviction, with our doubts
"indentified" as fictional, and Kinbote "marked as "thoroughly mad."
This is a key moment in Boyd's case. In order to armor his account against
complaints that the world of New Wye is as much an artistic construction as
Kinbote's fantasies, Boyd must demonstrate the former to have the greater truth
claim. This accomplished, he can safely dismiss Kinbote's narrative and pay heed to
its details only to read, as the book's subsequent second part is subtitled, "In Search
of the Story Behind" (75). "For Nabokov," Boyd asserts here, "the kind of sensitivity
to particulars and the attention to the interrelations of things that he invites us to see
and shows Kinbote to be blind to is no mere aesthetic fussing over details: it carries a
moral charge" (86). It is evidently this "moral charge" that allows him to deride
Kinbote as a "sickening stalker"
and earlier, to brutally castigate him as "a
pathetic, lonely paranoid, utterly deluded about himself and his importance to Shade,
to Zembla, to anything outside the desperate compensations in his own mind" (61).
Pule Fire does indeed carry "a moral charge," but not in Boyd's perhaps unintended
sense of a direct command.
he sounds not dissimilar to the anonymous New
Wye resident who denounces Kinbote in the grocery store: "'You are remarkably
disagreeable person. I
to see how John and Sybil can stand you,' and,
exasperated by my polite smile, she added: 'What's more, you are insane"' (25).