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Pale Fire

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Pale Fire Cover

ISBN13: 9780679723424
ISBN10: 0679723420
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Pale Fire consists of a long, elegiac poem written by John Shade and a rambling commentary on the poem produced by a Professor Charles Kinbote. Shade's poem is a touching, emotional work portraying the poet's attempt to understand and confront death. Kinbote's commentary, in contrast, interprets the poem as a veiled saga about the exiled king of a fabulous realm named Zembla. Pale Fire presents a humorous and unusual portrait of subjective reality. The unfettered forces of imagination combine with the ability to treat life as fiction and fiction as life, creating a dazzling novel of wit and high seriousness.
Recommended by Crystal, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

About 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

vivifai, September 2, 2011 (view all comments by vivifai)
If it's a challenge you're looking for, you found it. VN's Pale Fire is full of the themes and imagery he is known for. The five-canto poem is precise and beautiful! I love this book.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
manwith7talents, January 6, 2010 (view all comments by manwith7talents)
A highly disorienting and engrossing novel that puts the reader in the uncomfortable position of depending on a narrator who seems highly unreliable and may be insane. A postmodern puzzle of a novel that nevertheless succeeds by making the reader identify emotionally with its characters, the wise poet John Shade and the crazed commentator Charles Kinbote, who may also be the king of the fictional country of Zembla, or possibly a figment of someone's imagination. Pale Fire dares the reader to ask questions about the nature of fiction, authorship, identity, sanity and madness, but offers few answers to these questions. This book bothered me with these unanswered questions for a long time after I finished it.
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(7 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
Jennifer Short, November 16, 2009 (view all comments by Jennifer Short)
An absolutely amazing novel about a fictional author of a fantastic poem. Most unique set up for a novel ever, and it's unforgetable.
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(7 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780679723424
Author:
Nabokov, Vladimir
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Continental european fiction (fictional works
Subject:
Other world literature
Subject:
Experimental fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International (Paperback)
Series Volume:
5
Publication Date:
April 1989
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8 x 5.14 x 0.67 in 0.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Pale Fire Used Trade Paper
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$10.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679723424 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Pale Fire consists of a long, elegiac poem written by John Shade and a rambling commentary on the poem produced by a Professor Charles Kinbote. Shade's poem is a touching, emotional work portraying the poet's attempt to understand and confront death. Kinbote's commentary, in contrast, interprets the poem as a veiled saga about the exiled king of a fabulous realm named Zembla. Pale Fire presents a humorous and unusual portrait of subjective reality. The unfettered forces of imagination combine with the ability to treat life as fiction and fiction as life, creating a dazzling novel of wit and high seriousness.

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