Pale Fire

Pale Fire

4.5 21
by Vladimir Nabokov
     
 

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In Pale Fire Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade's self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry and one-upmanship, and political intrigue.  See more details below

Overview

In Pale Fire Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade's self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry and one-upmanship, and political intrigue.

Editorial Reviews

Rosenbaum
The Edgy Enthusiast's novel of the Century: My award goes to Nabakov's Pale Fire...the most Shakespearean work of art the 20'th century has produced, the only prose fiction that offers Shakespearean levels of depth and complexity, of beauty, tragedy, and inexhaustible mystery...reading Pale Fire, both novel and poem, is an almost obscenely sensual pleasure, I guarantee it...let me make the following assertion: Not only is Pale Fire the Novel of the Century, but "Pale Fire," the poem within the nove may well come to be looked upon as the Poem of the Century as well.

The New York Observer

From the Publisher
"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307787651
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/16/2011
Series:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
200,551
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Mary McCarthy
This centaur work, half-poem, half-prose. . .is the 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.
John Updike
Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically.

Meet the Author

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins.

The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri.

Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses–the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions–which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 23, 1899
Date of Death:
July 2, 1977
Place of Birth:
St. Petersburg, Russia
Place of Death:
Montreux, Switzerland
Education:
Trinity College, Cambridge, 1922

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Pale Fire 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never have I despised a novel's protagonist more than I do the excruciating Charles Kinbote as he dragged me through his interpretation, and subsequent self-promoting butchery, of his 'dear friend's' poem. So much so that I regularly had to remind myself that it wasn't real. And that's one of the great things about this book; whilst reading it we spend so much time wondering whether Kinbote is telling the truth or not that we forget that none of it's real at all. I got the distinct impression that I was being led to jump through hoops by Nabakov, whilst he sat back and laughed. In so far as I'm fit to judge, this is a work of true genius.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pale Fire is a novel obsessed with the relation between fiction and truth, text and life, that which is read and that which is experienced. It is unfortunate that Nabokov is known almost exclusively for Lolita (quite possibly his least interesting and most pedestrian work), when such novels as The Defense, Pnin, and Pale Fire go unnoticed by most readers. Pale Fire, a challenging and exceedingly deep book, is one of the finest examples in any language of exploring the reader's relationship to a novel. In a mature, exact fashion, Nabokov uses this book to not only tell a fascinating story to his audience, but also to show how that story is both true, a lie, an experience, a dream, an epic poem, and possibly something even more amorphous than that. Recommended to anyone you wishes for more than simple entertainment or cheap thrill in their reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I desperately needed to keep reading this story, I needed just as much to stop, close my eyes, shake my head, tilt it back and smile a broad smile of worshipful delight at Vladimir Nabokov doing it again, giving me just what I wanted when I wanted it. He lets you into his private mind, and I feel privileged!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nabokov creates a strange masterpiece that even surpasses LOLITA.Maybe the strangest most original book of the 1960s Nabokov makes us question every thing. Just explaining the plot is questionable but nabokovs writing is fantastic,his story and his unreliable characters are great.His work has lasted from the 1920s to the 1970s and included many great books and his opuses are LOLITA and PALE FIRE,LOLITA is very close to being his best but PALE FIRE is his crowning achivement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
manbooker1989 More than 1 year ago
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!). The story is of Shade and his sedentary life; of little child and grieving wife. The poem, I think is the best part, aesthetically speaking; but the commentary is also held in high regard, focusing on the "editor's" relationship and his own life: more of a self-commentary than poem-analysis. But Nabokov surprises the reader with ingenious lines and the usual philosophical introspections of life, death, the such. But, all the same, very enjoyable.
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What is it.^_^