Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, with its wildly original narrative structure, is a postmodern masterpiece from the author of Lolita, skewering the politics of academia, the struggle for interpretation, and the infinite subjectivity of human experience, published in Penguin Modern Classics. The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last ...
Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, with its wildly original narrative structure, is a postmodern masterpiece from the author of Lolita, skewering the politics of academia, the struggle for interpretation, and the infinite subjectivity of human experience, published in Penguin Modern Classics. The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, Pale Fire, is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade's editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the 'Great Beaver', Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous? As his wildly eccentric annotations slide into the personal and the fantastical, Kinbote reveals perhaps more than he ought. Who is Charles Kinbote - could he be the exiled King Charles of Zembla, or the Russian madman, Professor Botkin? Or is he just another of John Shade's literary inventions? Nabokov's darkly witty, richly inventive masterwork is a suspenseful whodunit, a story of one-upmanship and dubious penmanship, and a glorious literary conundrum. "A Jack-in-the-box, a Faberge gem, a clockwork toy, a chess problem." (Mary McCarthy). "Pale Fire must be one of the most brilliant and extraordinary novels ever written, let alone in the twentieth century." (William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart).
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The narrator of this novel is one screwed up guy. The character who is narrating this novel purports to be annotating and commenting on a lengthy poem by a dear friend and neighbour. Instead, the narrator has hijacked the poem for his own purposes. The reader has to decide if the narrator is aware and is intentionally subverting the other man's work, or is he so deluded that he actually believes in the hilarious and revealing nonsense he goes on and on about.
This is a very funny book and there is no doubt that the humour is intentional. It is also brilliant.
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