Monday, November 28, 2016

Pale Fire

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov 239 pp.

This novel is a 999 line poem written by the fictional character John Shade just before his death. The rest of the story is a foreward and detailed commentary by Shade's neighbor and fellow professor, the equally fictional Charles Kinbote. The poem covers aspects of Shade's life including the death of his daughter and his attempts at understanding the powers that may control the universe and its inhabitants. However, the commentary is not just about the poem. The somewhat deranged Kinbote carries on about his own story, his supposed friendship with Shade, a story about the missing king of his home country of Zembla. Key in this commentary is Kinbote's belief that the poem Shade was writing before his murder was to be the story of the deposed king. Is Kinbote this King Charles II living incognito as an exile from his homeland or is he just deranged and there is no such person or place. Nabokov leaves it to the reader to decide.

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