FORENOTE TO KINBOTE'S COMMENTARY, by Ted Nelson
The first side of Nabokov's novel is John Shade's haunting poem. The poem
as a whole (not included here) appears to me to be about the suicide of the
poet's daughter, in a context of nature, family, suburban life, and 1960s
Below, however, we have another interpretation-- the second side of
What follows are the comments of Charles Kinbote, a lunatic literary
critic. Kinbote believes himself to be the deposed king, Charles Xavier,
of a far-off land, called Zembla. He believes that even since coming to
the USA in 1958, he has barely escaped from an assassin named Gradus.
While partially expounding on John Shade's poem, Kinbote continually uses
the poem as an excuse to tell his own dubious story, which he thinks is
actually hidden in the poem.
(Because this is a demo about connections, Kinbote's notes have been
severely truncated to show these connections and honor copyright. I
recommend the full book.)