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Pale Fire ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (53)

Pale Fire is, I think, a brilliant parody of Literary Criticism.  However, it's barely a novel and it hardly warrants it's 200 pages, so I don't think it should make the list.

The structure of Pale Fire is unique.  It contains a long poem by "John Shade" & then 200+ pages of commentary on the poem by "Charles Kinbote".    Kinbote emerges as a complete lunatic over the course of his commentary, reading meanings into Shade's work that are obviously unsupportable.

Nabokov, thus, shows that critics bring such a subjective perspective to the works they critique, that they can hardly be considered an appropriate prism through which to view the original work.  I heartily agree with the point, but it becomes somewhat labored when stretched to this length.


Grade: (B)


Vladimir Nabokov Links:
    -Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "vladimir nabokov"
   -Life & Times : Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) (NY Times)
    -POEM: Superman returns: An unpublished poem by Vladimir Nabokov (Times Literary Supplement)
-REVIEW: of The Silence of the Sea, by Hilaire Belloc (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1941)
    -REVIEW: of Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1949)
    -REVIEW: of AUDOBON'S BUTTERFLIES, MOTHS AND OTHER STUDIES. Compiled and Edited by Alice Ford  (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1952)
    -REVIEW: Vladimir Nabokov: Rowe's Symbols, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov's Deceptive World by William Woodin Rowe
    -ESSAY: Nabokov's Butterflies (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: On Translating Pushkin POUNDING THE CLAVICHORD, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: TRANSLATION, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: LUNAR LINES, NY Review of Books
    -STORY: "Cloud, Castle, Lake" (Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: The Aurelian (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. The Assistant Producer (1943)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. A Forgotten Poet (1944)
    -STORY: Signs and Symbols  Vladimir Nabokov
    -STORIES: Vladimir Nabokov: Two by Nabokov, NY Review of Books
    -ARTICLE: Nonfiction: Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution Is Vindicated (CARL ZIMMER, 1/25/11, NY Times)
    -Literary Research Guide: Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Celebrating Nabokov's Centenary (The New York Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov, Author of 'Lolita' and 'Ada,' Is Dead  (ALDEN WHITMAN, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov: 1899-1977 (R.Z. SHEPPARD, TIME)
    -100 Years Vladimir  Nabokov (Random House)
    -the international vladimir nabokov society
    -The Nabokronology: a guide to Vladimir Nabokov's life and works
    -{ w a x w i n g } the vladimir nabokov appreciation site
    -Ardis  Picture Archives:  Nabokov
    -Soapbox Collage: Vladimir Nabokov
    -Nabokov Under Glass: The Nabokov Archive in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library
    -CNN In-Depth Specials on Nabokov: "Beyond Lolita: Rediscovering Nabokov on his birth centennial"
    -Vladimir Nabokov
    -ESSAY: Don’t be terrified of Pale Fire: Nabokov's masterpiece has a complex but huge heart (Mary Gaitskill, MAY 30, 2024, UnHerd)
    -ESSAY: Did J.K. Rowling Fail the Lolita Test?: The functionally illiterate youth are canceling her for praising the classic novel. (Kat Rosenfield, July 2, 2024, free Press)
    -ESSAY: The Novel of the Century (Ron Rosenbaum, 12/06/1999, The New York Observer)
    -ESSAY: Lolita is Nabokov: On the Parallel Histories of the Writer and His Most Famous Character: Monika Zgustova Explores Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Aftermath, On and Off the Page (Monika Zgustova, May 10, 2024, LitHub)
-ESSAY: Nabokov and why the moral act is the free act: How freedom and morality are intertwined (Dana Dragunoiu, 3/01/24, IAI News)
    -ESSAY: Secrets of Nabokov’s Teapot (William Boyd, September 2023, Literary Review)
    -PODCAST: Was Nabokov’s Love of the Cinema a Way to Survive Exile?: From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson (History of Literature, March 13, 2023)
    -ESSAY: Nabokov and Balthus: The Erotic Imagination (JEFFREY MEYERS, 5/22/22, Salmagundi)
    -ESSAY: The Night Inspection: Vladimir Nabokov at 123 (Maxim D. Shrayer, April 22, 2022, LA Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: Sarah Weinman on the Not-So-Unlikely Friendship Between Vladimir Nabokov and William F. Buckley, Jr.>: “What is bad for the Reds is good for me.” (Sarah Weinman, February 22, 2022, Lit Hub)
    -ESSAY: Anything But True Love: Vladimir Nabokov’s Anti-Erotic Masterpiece (Talbot Brewer, FALL 2021, Hedhehog Review)
    -ESSAY: America in Nabokov’s Cross-Country Chronicles: Thomas Dai on the Author's Butterfly-Hunting Excursions and His Own Relationship to the Road and American Identity (Thomas Dai, 8/02/21, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: NABOKOV’S SUPERNATURAL SECRET (David Bentley Hart, March 2014, First Things)
    -ESSAY: Why Do Readers Have Such Strong Feelings About Nabokov?: Robert Alter on Nabokov’s Literary Invention (Robert Alter, March 17, 2021, Lit Hub)
    -ESSAY: Lolita, Fashion Icon: How Nabokov's nymphet has been claimed, reimagined, exemplified, and misunderstood by the fashion industry (ROBIN GIVHAN, 3/17/21, Electric Lit)
    -ESSAY: How Would the Publishing World Respond to Lolita Today?: Jenny Minton Quigley on the Novel Her Father Published (Jenny Minton Quigley, March 16, 2021, Lit Hub)
    -ESSAY: Véra Nabokov Was the First and Greatest Champion of “Lolita” (Stacy Schiff, 3/05/21, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: How ‘Lolita’ Escaped Obscenity Laws and Cancel Culture (Emily Mortimer, March 2, 2021, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: The gay Nabokov:  The novelist never could face the secret that cost his brother his  life (LEV GROSSMAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov and   William Shakespeare (Philip F Howerton, Jr., Winter 1990 Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter)
    -ESSAY: The Nabokov gambit :  They failed with Lolita (twice) and now they've failed with The Luzhin Defence. Why do the novels of the great prose sorcerer Vladimir Nabokov always defeat the film-makers? (Steven Poole, Books Unlimited)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: How I found solace in Nabokov’s Speak, Memory during the pandemic: Nabokov’s remembrances granted reprieve from the new abnormal and – crucially – guidance on how to navigate it (Ryan Chapman, 13 Sep 2020, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Pale Fire: The Novel of the Century (Ron Rosenbaum, December 6, 1999, The New York Observer)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: LOLITA ISN'T A LOVE STORY. IT'S A GOTHIC HORROR NOVEL.: "Like Tom Ripley and Patrick Bateman—and Count Dracula and Hannibal Lecter—Humbert fascinates mainly because of the chasm between his sophisticated urbanity and his brutal rapaciousness." (CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE, 3/16/21, Crime Reads)
    -REVIEW: of Speak, Memory Evidence of the Hunt, Clues of a Past (ELIOT FREMONT-SMITH, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: D.J. Enright: Nabokov's Way, NY Review of Books
        The Waltz Invention by Vladimir Nabokov
        The Eye by Vladimir Nabakov
        Despair by Vladimir Nabokov
        Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov
        Escape Into Aesthetics: The Art of Vladimir Nabokov by Page Stegner
    -REVIEW: The Reality of the  Past: Book review of  'Speak, Memory' (JAN. 20, 1967, TIME)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  The Tragedy of Man Driven by Desire (ELIZABETH JANEWAY, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  (Charles Rolo, The Atlantic, SEPTEMBER  1958)
    -REVIEW: To the End of Night: Book review of 'Lolita' (SEPT. 1, 1958, TIME)
    -ESSAY: The Lolita Case (Time, 1958)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire  In an Elaborate Spoof, Nabokov Takes Us to the Never-Never Land of Zembla (GEORGE CLOYNE,  Sunday, May 27, 1962, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire (Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin)
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Magician's Trick, NY Review of Books
        The Enchanter by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Dmitri Nabokov
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Supreme Fairy Tale, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Don Quixote by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: The Novelist as Pedagogue, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Russian Literature by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Show, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Literature: British, French, and German Writers by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Touch, NY Review of Books
        Look at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov
        Strong Opinions by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Michael Wood: Tender Trousers, NY Review of Books
        Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Genesis, NY Review of Books
        Glory by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dimitri Nabokov
        The Scorpion God by William Golding
    -REVIEW: Jack Richardson: It's About Time, NY Review of Books
        Mary by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Michael Glenny
    -REVIEW:  Matthew Hodgart: Happy Families, NY Review of Books
        ADA or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: William H. Gass: Mirror, Mirror, NY Review of Books
        King, Queen, Knave by Vladimir Nabokov
        Nabokov: The Man and His Work edited by L.S. Dembo
        Keys to Lolita by Carl R. Proffer
    -REVIEW: Edmund Wilson: The Strange Case of Pushkin and Nabokov, NY Review of Books
        Eugene Onegin A Novel in Verse by Alexandr Pushkin, translated by Vladimir Nabokov
WILSON, NY Review of Books
    -REVIEW: Harry Levin: A Contest Between Conjurors, NY Review of Books
        The Nabokov-Wilson Letters: Correspondence Between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, 1940-1971
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: of Nabokov's Congeries (Anthony  Burgess, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995,  John Updike, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW:  Robert M. Adams: The Wizard of Lake Cayuga, NY Review of Books
            Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years by Brian Boyd
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov: His Life in Part by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: Denis Donoghue: Absolute Pitch
        Nabokov: His Life in Art: A Critical Narrative by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: of V E r  a  ( Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov )   BY STACY SCHIFF (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of Vera by Stacy Schiff Behind the Mask of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov (Katherine Knorr, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of NABOKOV'S BLUES: The Scientific Odyssey of a  Literary Genius By Kurt Johnson and Steve CoatesThe Ardent Collector  (Donald Smith, Washington Post Book World)
    -ESSAY: Freeing "Pale Fire" From Pale Fire: The next big Nabokov controversy. (Ron Rosenbaum, July 23, 2010, Slate)
    -ESSAY: The Year of 'Lolita'  (Brian Boyd, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: "Lolita," My Mother-in-Law, the Marquis de Sade, and Larry Flynt: Reflections on art, pornography, and censorship, after the taboos have all been smashed (Norman Podhoretz, Commentary)
    -ESSAY: PERSONAL BEST: Lolita (AMY TAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: A personal centenary salute (John Yewell, MetroActive)
    -ESSAY: F.W. Dupee: Nabokov: the Prose and Poetry of It All, NY Review of Books

Book-related and General Links:
   -Life & Times : Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) (NY Times)
    -Analysis from the Electronic Labyrinth
    English 102 Lolita Page
    w a x w i n g     the vladimir nabokov appreciation page
    -ESSAY : PALE FIRE (Glasgow Phillips, Blue Lawn)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire  In an Elaborate Spoof, Nabokov Takes Us to the Never-Never Land of Zembla (GEORGE CLOYNE, NY Times, 1962)
    -REVIEW: of Nabokov's Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery  By BRIAN BOYD (DANIEL ZALEWSKI, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  (Charles Rolo, The Atlantic, SEPTEMBER  1958)
    -Personal Best (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -REVIEW: Professor Nabokov (John Updike, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Nabokov: His Life in Art: A Critical Narrative by Andrew Field (Denis Donoghue, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of NABOKOV'S BLUES: The Scientific Odyssey of a  Literary Genius By Kurt Johnson and Steve CoatesThe Ardent Collector  (Donald Smith, Washington Post Book World)

If you liked Pale Fire, try:

A.S. Byatt