Pale Fire
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Pale Fire

4.19 (29,951 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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 should. Nabokov's darkly witty, richly inventive masterwork is a suspenseful whodunit, a story of one-upmanship and dubious penmanship, and a glorious literary conundrum.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 20mm | 199.58g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Repr.
  • 0141185260
  • 9780141185262
  • 9,185

Review quote

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 McCarthyshow more

About Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov was born in 1899 in St Petersburg. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence as a masterly prose stylist for the novels he composed in English, most famously, Lolita. Between 1923 and 1940 he published novels, short stories, plays, poems and translations in the Russian language and established himself as one of the most outstanding Russian emigre writers. He died in 1977.show more

Review Text

Another wholly different, baffling, brilliant book, full of word plays and tricky meanings. "Man's life as commentary to abstruse / Unfinished poem," writes the old poet, John Shade, in a long, personal, old-man's poem about life and death. Shade (happily married) and Charles Kinbote (homosexual) are teachers at Wordsmith College. What Kinbote does with Shade's poem, after Shade's death, supplies the kernel of the story - that, and what his deed does to him; and the whole development with its odd perversions and symbolisms is at times marvellously funny, often poignantly tragic. Perhaps, since the obscure symbolism forces the reader into reflecting Kinbote in a Kinbote-type, personal commentary, it would be unfair to give away more of the plot (if so it can be termed). The book is a box-within-boxes joke. Perhaps this is to be expected of Nabokov, as are also the dazzling flash of reversible meanings, puns, marvelously tangible writing, and cold, frightening resemblances to reality. Major publisher backing, for this is Nabokov's first novel written since Lolita. Count on intellectual snob appeal. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

29,951 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 48% (14,519)
4 31% (9,161)
3 15% (4,390)
2 4% (1,287)
1 2% (594)
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