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According to this deranged annotator, he had urged Shade to write about his own homeland--the northern kingdom of Zembla. It soon becomes clear that this fabulous locale may well be a figment of Kinbote's colorfully cracked, prismatic imagination. Meanwhile, he manages to twist the poem into an account of Zembla's King Charles--whom he believes himself to be--and the monarch's eventual assassination by the revolutionary Jakob Gradus.
In the course of this dizzying narrative, shots are indeed fired. But it's Shade who takes the hit, enabling Kinbote to steal the dead poet's manuscript and set about annotating it. Is that perfectly clear? By now it should be obvious that Pale Fire is not only a whodunit but a who-wrote-it. There isn't, of course, a single solution. But Nabokov's best biographer, Brian Boyd, has come up with an ingenious suggestion: he argues that Shade is actually guiding Kinbote's mad hand from beyond the grave, nudging him into completing what he'd intended to be a 1,000-line poem. Read this magical, melancholic mystery and see if you agree. --Tim Appelo
Witty, imaginative, bristling with weird bright ironies. The book is a novel that pretends to be a commentary, on a thousand-line poem that Nabokov pretends was written by someone... Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Pfundstein
This review is for the reader who shares my high opinion of the novel and wants to know if it is safe to buy the Kindle edition. Read morePublished 1 month ago by William Adams
Not a spoiler! Just a literary discussion and hopeful it will inspire others to read some or all of Nabokov's works. Read morePublished 2 months ago by #999,999,999,999+1(me)
Hands down, one of my favorite works of fiction. Nabokov takes his classic "unreliable narrator" and twists him even further, creating a dark, haunting nest of lies and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sei Shonagon
Best writing of 20th c at least - this is dense but once you're there it's hypnotic and obsessesPublished 2 months ago by Downtown Pearl
Nabokov writes so well. His words flow or stick together so effortlessly. But at times his sink into the mire of strain, losing their way (oh Pale Fire!). Read morePublished 3 months ago by K.N.R.
I'm a big fan of Nabokov, but this ranks among my LEAST favorite of the "highly recommended" books. I get the joke. I understand he clever devices. Read morePublished 3 months ago by James Ross
For a number of years I have had an almost instinctual distaste for Vladimir Nabokov. I was basing my low opinion of Nabokov on some vague ideas I had about his art and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Brian C.
We read this for book club, and when I picked it up I aged through it and thought, "Oh. Fantastic. A poem and commentary from the 1950, that's going to be a snooze-fest. Read morePublished 4 months ago by S. Fitzgerald