The Modern Library 100 Best Novels Challenge discussion

Pale Fire
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100 Best Novels - Discussion > Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

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Shawn (sounix) | 133 comments Mod
The March 2012 read will be Pale Fire! I hope you are all looking forward to it.


Lisa | 4 comments Is anyone else having a hard time getting your bearings with this book? Once I think I have it figured out, I quickly become confused again. Would love to hear if anyone has any insight.


Shawn (sounix) | 133 comments Mod
I'm still a little behind and haven't begun the book yet although I'm really looking forward to it. I read some online praise that said it was Nabokov's best book.

I find sometimes, with more recent Russian literature, there's a fog through which you have to move and it only makes sense in hindsight-- like Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita.


Marylu Sanok | 19 comments I have a copy that has the poem, plus there is 200 pages of explanations of each 4 line couplet.

It is still slow reading for me. I always had a problem with metaphors and symbolism. I guess it just keep trying.


Lisa | 4 comments Thanks Shawn. Good advice.

Marylu, the book consists of a Foreword, Poem in 4 cantos and a Commentary. Don't skip to the poem. I won't say anymore so as not to spoil the experience. But I do feel like this might be what an acid trip is like without the side effects.


message 6: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) Just an idea! Let the images come to you and don't attempt to control them. Get the feel for it. This poem has a great depth to it. So one reading will not give you all of the vision. The reader must suspend their attempt to control the scene and just let it come. I think I will buy this book as it is one full of creative sparks that can motivate my own writing. That's what I think so far.


message 7: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) "not text but texture" texture is a feeling, text is a static symbol.


Dave (aircontrol) | 12 comments I read this book several years ago, and approached it without any knowledge of what I was in for. I was baffled. It was like walking into a labyrinth, not knowing that I was, but upon finding out, was excited by the adventure that was upcoming.


Lisa | 4 comments Ok, just finished this and have to say that this is definitely not one of my favorites. If anyone has any insight into symbolism, et al, then please share but for the most part I had a hard time connecting with this book. It did not leave me with anything that inspired or moved me and it definitely was not entertaining. There is something poetic and moving about the other authors on this list but Nabokov has just left me frustrated and relieved to be finished. Sorry to pan my first read as a group member but hope I can redeem myself sooner rather than later.


message 10: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) Lisa wrote: "Ok, just finished this and have to say that this is definitely not one of my favorites. If anyone has any insight into symbolism, et al, then please share but for the most part I had a hard time c..."

Lisa its okay really.... I can see what your saying, this is what I am hearing from you: That the book is too man in the high castle-esque being an experimental book and all and that it was difficult to get into the reading of it. I agree. However, what may be of interest to you is to think of this as how commentary and sound bites effect our interpretation of artistic notions. Notice, that a lot of the commentary by the critical voice is extrapolation with out context. Our media also does this. Now I feel that I am talking in circles so I will stop.


message 11: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) Gregory wrote: ""not text but texture" texture is a feeling, text is a static symbol."

Not sure what Greg was attempting to say here but bravo so extraordinary in your extrapolation, without context! Brilliant man brilliant, or raving mad.


message 12: by Dave (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave (dtheurer) | 12 comments Just finished a few days ago and a few thoughts...Kudos to Nabokov for breaking new ground... at times a hilarious page turner and at times a cumbersome trudge through knee deep snow...credit though is earned for the attempt, grade B


Shawn (sounix) | 133 comments Mod
I'm almost done with it. I agree, Dave, it's original for sure. The whole idea of integrating a poem with these narrative notes. Very interesting.

I'm not sure which I like more, the poem itself or the accompanying story.


Shawn (sounix) | 133 comments Mod
All right, I just finished. I actually liked it. It was crazy how there were layers within layers. A novel by Nabokov about a king in exile, writing about a poet in a book containing the poet's poem and mis-explaining away each of the 4 lines in a humorous manner in addition to hijacking the entire poem by injecting his story of attempted regicide-- meanwhile the entire corpus could be read as an attack against literary criticism.


message 15: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) So how do we write a review for a book like this?


Renee Gimelli (renee_gimelli) | 1 comments Shawn,
Precisely what you describe as an "attack against literary criticism" is how I read this book. Being an English major makes it much more hilarious to me and tragic in the way academia wrecks intellects.


message 17: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Rothbard (polycarp55) Renee wrote: "Shawn,
Precisely what you describe as an "attack against literary criticism" is how I read this book. Being an English major makes it much more hilarious to me and tragic in the way academia wrecks..."


I need to go back and read this one again.


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