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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
I don't know, but it just goes to show that any reading of this book will be a rewarding one.
The words, the language, the structure, the social criticism, and most of all, the beauty, as I contemplate and re-contemplate this work, grow ever more replete.
I have read nearly every one of Nabokov's books, and this is in my opinion his best work, with Lolita as a close second.
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 9 days 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 28 days ago by S. Fitzgerald
Hated it. I almost used this book as a fire starter, but that would have required me to touch it once again.Published 28 days ago by David Lowe
This novel is deliberately unique in its lengthy poetry construction and annotation. At first I thought this book was an aberration from the norm just for fun; An experimental... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe L
One of the most skillfully-written, clever, and inventive novels of the 20th century, and the best Nabokov novel I've read so far--even better than Lolita, which was absolutely... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jason Childress
I admit Nabokov is a genius. But while I adored Lolita, my main impulse upon finishing Pale Fire is to go back and rewatch The X-Files's "Jose Chung's From Outer Space,"... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jennifer Grey
I thought this book was a one-trick pony: a single gag carried out to the proportions of a full-length novel. Might have enjoyed it more as a short story. Read morePublished 4 months ago by N. Andreassen
I first read this novel when it was published in 1962. The voice of the narrator has been haunting me ever since. With time on my hands this last summer, I decided to re-read it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by C. J. Wright
Pale Fire was published in 1962 at around the same time as Stanley Kubrick's movie version of Vladimir Nabokov's acclaimed and notorious novel Lolita hit the big screen. Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. Buzalka