Pale Fire

From Wikipedia

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

Pale Fire (1962) a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, his 14th in any language and 5th in English.

Pale Fire purports to be an edition of a poem ("Pale Fire") by the well-known poet John Shade, with extensive Commentary, Foreword, and Index by his self-appointed biographer, Charles Kinbote. His neighbor in the small college town of New Wye, Kinbote manages to force himself into Shade's daily affairs, witnesses his asassination, and ultimately takes it upon himself to oversee the posthumous publication of Shade's canto "Pale Fire".

In the Commentary and Index Kinbote (or Shade - or Nabokov -- the internal authorship of the narrative is richly debated and speculation on it is, for many readers, the greatest pleasure in the book) spins the tale of Charles Xavier Botkin, deposed King of Zembla, "a distant northern land". As the commentary progresses the puns (Kinbote/Botkin, Shade/Gradus/Sudarg...) and departures from academic convention (particularly notes that have nothing to do with the poem or poet in question) leave the reader wondering whose story is being told, what the rules for storytelling are, and what conventions, if any, the novel/poem/academic commentary/detective story flaunts.