Pale Fire

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“Pale Fire,” the Poem: Does It Stand Alone as a Masterpiece?

He sees chiefly the disproportion between a helpless craving and its object. Men love, but when they look at what they love they find nothing there: women, it is inferred, are too busy to find time for such sentimental claptrap; with so much sex and money on hand, feeling has to be dismissed as a time-waster. When he turns to the things of the mind, Mr.

Nabokov again shows self-imposed limitations. It is significant that the field in which his knowledge is most precise should be lepidopterology. At once an image springs to mind of the professor and his chloroform bottle, his green net, his leggings.


Slightly absurd? Nabokov would not mind that in the least. For his idea of science is bound up with a keen sense of the ridiculous. Knowledge, he suggests, is almost as irrational as love. Pain, the one really sympathetic character in his novels, is a figure of fun in either context. For the rest, Mr. Nabokov, whatever his passport,, remains a Czarist Russian with a number of tics.

He likes inventing words—even phrases from imaginary languages. He likes mockery for its own sake. He likes submitting to the intoxication of rhetoric, so that tropes and fancies mingle with wonderfully precise pieces of observation. Trained lepidopterist as he is, the smaller the object under his microscope the better he sees it, the more lovingly he describes its rarity. He uses English—to him only one of several possible languages and not the best—as a child demonstrates a toy railway.


Look, the trains go backward and forward; they dash through toy tunnels; they stop at toy stations; sometimes it is rather fun to set the points so that they fall off the rails at a corner. Then they lie on their backs and the wheels whiz uselessly in the air. All the time, Mr. Nabokov is a moralist. He has in mind an ideal order, not unlike an Edwardian version of Mr.

He would wish his men all to be tough-minded but luxurious, his women all brisk but totally accessible. Politics would wither under a benevolent order; affection, tempered by acerbity, would cement the community together. University of Pennsylvania Press. The History of English Literature. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Wired 3. Nabokov Online Journal.

Strong Opinions. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Pale Fire (Literature) - TV Tropes

Princeton University Press. The New York Herald Tribune. In Vladimir Alexandrov ed. Garland Publishing, Inc. See also references therein. Vladimir Nabokov: The Critical Heritage ed.

About the Artist

Routledge and Kegan Paul. The New Republic. Revised version in Mary McCarthy A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays. Kinbote's Revenge".

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Partisan Review : — Partially reprinted in Page, Critical Heritage , pp. Yorkshire Post. Partially reprinted in Page, Critical Heritage , p. Reprinted in Chester, Alfred Looking for Genet: Literary Essays and Reviews. Black Sparrow Press. Quoted by Page, Critical Heritage , p. Reporter : 42, 44— Sunday Telegraph. Reprinted in Page, Critical Heritage , pp.

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  • The Novel of the Century: Nabokov’s Pale Fire?

New Statesman : — Retrieved 19 September Ann Arbor: Ardis, Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Nabokov and the Novel.

The novel provides examples of:

Cambridge, Mass. Nabokov Studies. The Annotated Lolita. New York: Vintage Books. CS1 maint: extra text: authors list link Appel's annotations to Lolita also address Pale Fire , and "in place of a note on the text", Appel reproduces the last two paragraphs of Kinbote's foreword, which discuss poetry and commentary. Barton Ann Arbor, Mich.

Nabokov: His Life in Art. Boston: Little, Brown. Berkeley: University of California Press. Vladimir Nabokov: the American Years. The Pittsburgh Press. Escape into Aesthetics. New York: Dial. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Above all, Nabokov's Pale Fire is a manifesto for close reading. There can be no better recommendation than that. It enlivens our sense of a marvelous novel, it encourages generous close reading, and it makes the best case possible for the general human value of Nabokov's fiendish cleverness.

Boyd does so not only intelligently and thoughtfully but also lovingly. Brian Boyd brings to bear on Nabokov's most elaborately encrypted novel an acute attention to textual detail and a vast fund of relevant learning, coupled with endlessly resourceful ingenuity. The result is a provocative thesis about the structure and meaning of the novel-seemingly a "solution" but, as he himself grants, really grounds for continuing discussion, and in any case, a vivid demonstration of the excitements of skilled reading.

Brian Boyd. Overview Author s Reviews

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