In Pale Fire, Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade’s self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry, one-upmanship, and political intrigue.
“This centaur work, half poem, half prose…is a creation of perfect beauty, sym...more
I¹ liked² this book³, especially the poem⁴.
¹ When I use the first-person singular pronoun, I am here referring to my normal persona. I have also, at various times, maintained other personas. For example, between 1999 and 2001, I used to play chess regularly on the KasparovChess site under the handle "swedish_chick".
The rest of this review is in my book What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante and Other Futile Speculations
With deepest sorrows, I regret to inform everyone to the death of fellow Goodreads reviewer, and my dear friend, s.penkevich. While he may have departed, I, Vincent Kephes, have taken upon myself the burden of collecting his notes and the half-finished reviews that he left behind in order to bestow them upon you all. I am certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that, having been close with s., this is in keeping with his wishes, and although they were never overtly expressed, I knew from...more
I read Pale Fire under the bed. I didn't roll around in the sheets and get sweaty and come at the same time like all of the sex scenes on HBO tv shows. I hid under the bed and I didn't look first to see who the bed belonged to. So long as it wasn't mine... Another sweaty body did the dirty on top and I could feel the springs pushing into my back down below. Paranoid body on top and apprehensively hopeful body below. Just below, me. Jealous wiv...more
We here are a community trying to reclaim our authority over writers who for pages have manipulated our thoughts and beings. Generals get stars, good students too, and my 2-year-old every time she uses the potty. Only the higher-ups get to hand them out, but c'mmon, is there a higher-up for Nabokov? Whoever can, hand him a real s...more
The book initially appears to be an unfinished poem, 'Pale Fire', by a dead writer named John Shade, together with a foreword, detailed commentary and index by a friend of his, Charles Kinbote.
But Kinbote is less interested in the poem than he is in discussing the country of 'Zembla' and its flamboyantly gay, deposed King. It's more or less apparent, as the book progresses, that Kinbote is EITHER a)...more
Half poem, half prose.
Read by Marc Vietor & Robert Blumenfeld
Blubs: (view spoiler)[Like Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire is a masterpiece that imprisons us inside the mazelike head of a mad émigré. Yet Pale Fire is more outrageously hilarious, and its narrative convolutions make the earlier book seem as straightforward as a fairy tale. Here's the plot--listen carefully! John Shade is a homebody poet in New Wye, U.S.A. He writes a 999-line poem about his life, and what may lie beyond deat...more
In the end, I can't decide whether I'm supposed to even like the poem, which I did. I can't decide whether Nabokov even wanted me to consider this a great work of fiction or whether this is a bitter satire of readers and critics? Should I be offended? Or do I detect a hint of self-disgust? Should I laugh at Charles Kinbote...more
Can not help but think in rhyme. Gray
Cat sits on a sunken chair; Full of
Spite and covr'd with mangy hair.
Was that the phone? I listen at the door.
Pause. Nothing. I resume vaccuming
Once more. And there's the wall of
Sound, that nightly wall. Frogs
Croak, the 'Yotes howl and frighten all.
What torture and yet splendid pain, Nabokov
Has inflicted on my brain! Ludricous,
I say; that I am pleased. When he's
left me feeling used and thor'ghly teased.
The first thing that should be noted for anyone approaching this book is that it's a commentary on editing and a novel with extremely odd form. If you're not down for that, or you don't like the idea of reading a poem, then stay away.
That said, it's still jaw droppingly amazing what this book is. It shouldn't be, but i...more
First, I am reading The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides (see separate review at The Guide of the Perplexed).
Second, one might think that reading a short twentieth-century poem with four cantos consisting of less than one thousand lines of verse might be a little easier. But, no.
This is Pale F...more
There are brilliant lines and phrases in the story that create vivid imagery and instant emotional resona...more
It's funny that I read this book when I did. I have been reading books on literary theory and how a conventional novel should be structur...more
"Pale Fire" is the name of a 999-line poem in four cantos by the famous poet John Shade (a creation of Nabokov). After Shade's death, Charles Kinbote (also fictitious) absconds to a cabin in t...more
Is it worth all the effort? No, probably not....more
"All we have to do when reading Bleak House is relax and let our spines take over. Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between our shoulder blades. T...more
The author's son, Dmitri, singled out this novel as his favorite (of all time...more
1. How did I not know VN was FUNNY?
2. One suspects all literary critics and annotators are apophenic.
3. There is joy in having to look up words, and more joy when those words seem to have been used only by VN in the last fifty years.. Inenubilable!
4. I am getting better at books that take three bookmarks to read for the flipping back and forth. And I opened Baker's Mezzanine tonight to thrill to the sight of all of the footnotes my he...more
Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had an interest in chess problems.
Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intrica...more