Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $24.00
  • Save: $5.48 (23%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Pale Fire (Everyman's Lib... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Used: Acceptable | Details
Sold by SNUBS2011
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Markings/Highlightings - Book contains highlighting and/or underlining on many pages and shows signs of wear and tear to be expected with a well-used previously owned book. Not the prettiest, but not falling apart either. Cover and/or pages may show other signs of use/wear. We carefully inspected this book. Comes with Super Fast Shipping â€" usually leaves warehouse within 24 hours. Professional packaging with tracking number and 24/7 customer service provided at no additional cost. 100% satisfaction guaranteed with every purchase!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth)) Hardcover – March 10, 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 178 customer reviews

See all 51 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$11.26 $10.93

Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
$18.52 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 9 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
  • +
  • Lolita (Everyman's Library Classics)
Total price: $30.44
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 death. This novel (and seldom has the word seemed so woefully inadequate) consists of both that poem and an extensive commentary on it by the poet's crazy neighbor, Charles Kinbote.

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"This centaur-work, half poem, half prose…is a creation of perfect beauty, symmetry, strangeness, originality and moral truth. Pretending to be a curio, it cannot disguise the fact that it is one of the great works of art of this century." —Mary McCarthy, The New Republic

"As a literary tour de force it surpasses anything else Mr. Nabokov has done." —Atlantic Monthly

"Scintillating, brilliantly inventive…[Pale Fire] has almost as many layers of meaning as an artichoke has petals." —Commonwealth

"Of all [Nabokov's] inventions, Pale Fire is the wildest, the funniest and the most earnest. It is like nothing on God's earth." —New York Herald Tribune

"A monstrous, witty, intricately entertaining work . . . done with dazzling skill." —Time

"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." —John Updike

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Everyman's Library (Cloth)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; 1st edition (March 10, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679410775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679410775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pale Fire is the name of a 999-line poem in four cantos by the "distinguished American poet" John Shade, published posthumously in a lovingly prepared edition with a foreword and detailed commentary by the Zemblan literary scholar Charles Kinbote. Pale Fire is also the name of the novel by Vladimir Nabokov in which the poem is written by Shade and annotated by Kinbote, who are Nabokov's creations. The novel is actually written in the form of poem and scholarly apparatus, not omitting a thorough index. It is a perfect and perfectly original union of form and meaning. It is also wickedly, outrageously funny.
The poem itself is a complicated, beautiful, mysterious achievement. It reveals the character of John Shade so completely and movingly that we have to keep reminding ourselves that it was actually written by Nabokov, himself. The poem is the heart of the novel, literally and figuratively, although the commentary no doubt constitutes the most interesting reading. Pale Fire is Shade's final work; possibly his greatest work. It is the product of every thought and experience in a long, thoughtful life, and it also contains that entire life: childhood, adolescence, marriage, fatherhood, old age and death. The title refers to the "pale fire of time," and is taken from a poem by Yeats and not from Shakespeare, as Kinbote confidently suggests. Or is Nabokov simply leading us on a merry chase? Better check Timon of Athens to be sure.
And Kinbote is frequently wrong in his confident suggestions in the commentary.
Read more ›
2 Comments 180 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Pale Fire -- Vladimir Nabokov
It is arguable, and debatable, whether this title or Lolita is Nabokov's masterpiece, but what is certain is that Pale Fire is once of the tightest, best-structured books of the 20th century.
Pale Fire is laid out in three parts: a Foreward written by Charles Kinbote, a Poem written by John Shade, and Commentary, also written by Kinbote.
What is prefigured in the Foreword and then made explicit in the Commentary is Kinbote's strange relationship with Shade and his equally strange past. The story is told completely through the device of the Foreword and Commentary, and in them Kinbote paints himself as a refugee from a despotic regime in a faraway land known only as Zembla. He takes up residence in New Wye, right across the street from professor and poet John Shade.
Once settled in New Wye, Kinbote embarks on an obsessive, mutedly homoerotic relationship with his poet neighbor, courting him when they are together and spying on him the rest of the time. Although Kinbote has fled his native Zembla, he dearly loves his homeland with the pain of one who knows he can never return to the land he has forsaken, and it is his dream that Shade will immortalize Zembla in a poem.
But just as Kinbote reaches for Zembla, so does Zembla reach for Kinbote. In the Commentary Kinbote brings forth a character called Gradus, who is an assassin sent from Zembla to search him out and kill him.
If the Foreword and Commentary tell the story of Kinbote, then the Poem tells the story of Shade. In only 999 lines, Shade paints a vivid picture of his past, taking us through his idyllic life in New Wye, its sudden destruction one night by death of his daughter, and his subsequent coping.
Read more ›
1 Comment 76 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh, there is no fanatic like a convert. And Nabokov's writing in the English language bestows his found tongue with rapture. This is Nabokov's finest (I suppose in this 21st century, I just don't find Lolita shocking! shocking! the way its rookie readers must have) and one of the top ten novels of the 20th century.
Surprisingly, you'll find that this book composed of a 999-line poem and the commentary written on that poem by a colleague, has a plot. It is ingenious, twisted, brilliant. One of the most finely crafted works of art ever. I've picked up the word "replete" in relation to art from Steven Pinker, and this work is repleteful. 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 love this poem. "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/ In the false azure of the windowpane" and its delicate rhymes and trips and footfalls are savored with every single re-reading. He brings an outsiders perspective to the language with rhymes we don't "see" but hear: "Come and be worshipped, come and be caressed / My dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest" and it sometimes feels like he's introducing you to a new English language.
So who wouldn't like this book, I suppose, should be a question the reviewer should try to answer. Well, I just can't imagine anybody that's ever bought a novel not liking this one, so I suppose if you're a pure non-fiction reader, this ain't for you. And Nabokov is a bit bloodless at times, you won't find the wild, sloppy joy of a Kerouac, or the brawny aggressiveness of a Hemingway, but finely finely crafted and turned and polished words delivered impeccably, perfectly.
Please, please, read Pale Fire. The more of us that carry Nabokov's masterwork in our hearts, the more he will have "lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky"
1 Comment 79 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: classics literature