Pale Fire

Pale Fire

Book - 1992
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The urbane authority that Vladimir Nabokov brought to every word he ever wrote, and the ironic amusement he cultivated in response to being uprooted and politically exiled twice in his life, never found fuller expression than in Pale Fire published in 1962 after the critical and popular success of Lolita had made him an international literary figure.

An ingeniously constructed parody of detective fiction and learned commentary, Pale Fire offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures, at the center of which is a 999-line poem written by the literary genius John Shade just before his death. Surrounding the poem is a foreword and commentary by the demented scholar Charles Kinbote, who interweaves adoring literary analysis with the fantastical tale of an assassin from the land of Zembla in pursuit of a deposed king. Brilliantly constructed and wildly inventive, this darkly witty novel of suspense, literary one-upmanship, and political intrigue achieves that rarest of things in literature-perfect tragicomic balance. With an introduction by Richard Rorty.

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1992
ISBN: 9780679410775
Branch Call Number: FIC NAB
Characteristics: xxiii, 315 p. ; 22 cm


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Sep 27, 2019

I have no doubt at all that I am Too Dumb for this book, nor did I go back and check/compare all the notes or anything. But I really liked this--it was fun to relish in the form of it, and it was very funny in the way Nabokov usually is. And as the story winds up, it really does suck you in and the narrative is so interesting and tight and self-involved and it's just a really good fun book that I would (and probably have to!) definitely return to for a number of rereads.

" And while the safety blade with scrape and screak /Travels across the country of my cheek, Cars on the highway pass, and up the steep / Incline big trucks around my jawbone creep,/ And now a silent liner docks, and now/ Sunglassers tour Beirut, and now I plough / Old Zembla's fields where my gray stubble grows,/ And slaves make hay between my mouth and nose." " ...before reaching the staging point, the false king managed to escape by climbing down one of the pylons that supported the traction cable... " Somewhere in the mist of the city there occurred every day disgusting outbursts of violence, arrests and executions, but the great city rolled on as smoothly as ever, the cafes were full, splendid plays were being performed at the Royal Theater, and it was really the palace whch contained the strongest concentrate of gloom." "The ladies in waiting had, of course, left long before, at the time the KIng exiled his Queen to her villa on the French Riviera. Thank heavens, she was spared those dreadful days in the polluted palace! "

Jun 25, 2017

There is no question that Nabokov is a true master at his craft. However, this book reads like an overly intellectual academic exercise exploring alternative forms of literature. If you squint hard enough you can find the threads of interesting story buried in these pages, but I was expecting so much more from this classic novel. The book begins with a 999 line poem written by a fictional poet named John Shade. The poem is followed by a lengthy commentary written by a fictional academic named Charles Kinbote who provides his own thoughts and literary analysis of the fictional poem. During the commentary, Charles Kinbote reveals that he has an unusual relationship with John Shade, and that he is much more than a simple academic scholar. But in the end, it's too annoyingly meta for my puny literary powers.

morrisonist Sep 12, 2015

this is a story about a man who wants to save his daughter from the harsh realities of life, and accidentally destroys her in the process

Dec 29, 2013

Nightmare to read. YOU will be turn pages back and forth all night long.

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