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Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))…

Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth)) (original: 1962; edição: 1992)

de Vladimir Nabokov

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7,006125992 (4.24)1 / 331
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.
Título:Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
Autores:Vladimir Nabokov
Informação:Everyman's Library (1992), Edition: 1st Everyman's, Hardcover, 336 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

Detalhes da Obra

Pale Fire de Vladimir Nabokov (1962)

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31. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
published: 1962
format: 303-page Paperback
acquired: May
read: Jun 30 – Jul 12
time reading: 13:43, 2.7 mpp
rating: 4
locations: an eastern American college and Zembla (“a distant northern land)
about the author: 1899 – 1977. Russia born, educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, 1922. Lived in Berlin (1922-1937), Paris, the US (1941-1961) and Montreux, Switzerland (1961-1977).

Had I known what I was getting into, and done a little mental prep, I would have enjoyed this novel a lot more than I did. Instead, in the midst nice reading flow, I found myself unexpectedly in hundreds of pages of commentary of a 1000-poem. To follow along the reader has to constantly cross-check the poem and the commentary, and, as the commentary has little to do with the actual subject of the poem, keep cross checking to try to read between the lines...and that's just to make surficial sense.

Charles Kinbote acquired exclusive rights to his colleague John Shade's 1000-line poem, nearly finished before Shade's untimely death. This book is the poem and Kinbote's commentary, kept free of any editorial oversight of any kind. Kinbote is in full control. He provides an introduction, oozing with unnamed classical references, telling a little of context of Shade's poem. Shade, who's name is a reference to the word used to describe souls in Dante's Divine Comedy, is presented to us as an overshadowed Petrarch, who, when first met in frozen winter, could not get his car tire "out of a concave inferno of ice". Shade, like Petrarch, provided notes on the dates he started sections of his poem, but not on the the endless editing done until his death. A farce first exposed when we quickly realize Shade only worked on his poem a month. This makes Kinbote an equivalent of an early Petrach commentator... but who? Anyway, this Virgil/Dante/Petrarch nonsense gets dropped out of our introduction, which closes with Kinbote advising us not read Shades poem next, but to read his own commentary on its own first, then read Shades poem, and then read the commentary again. Amused at Kinbote's need to overshadow his subject, I considered this a moment. There are 226 pages of commentary. I read the poem first.

The poem, of course (?), has it's own farcical aspects, but is also a touching and curious autobiographical exploration of Shade's life, marriage, his daughter's suicide and his own hard atheism confronting her ghost. It's all in rhyming couplets. It opens with a couplet now often referenced, "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/ By the false azure of the windowpane;". When I finished reading the poem I was looking forward to some explanative commentary, but should have known better. It takes Kinbote two sentences to switch from Shade to himself. Kinbote is consumed with thoughts on his home country, his fictional Zembla, "a distant northern land", with its own language. Kinbote had talked to Shade extensively about Zembla, none of which Shade put in his poem. So, Kinbote inserts it all in his commentary, and adds Shades death, contriving dark prophetical aspects on this out of Shade's poem - like in that first line.

This is all, in theory, good fun. Critics at the time either praised its elaborate complexity, and criticized its more fundamental simplicity. But whatever it may be, I have left it mostly unresolved in my own head, my extensive cross checking actually kept to a minimum. So I found it a mildly amusing but very frustrating read. I guess it's a classic case of YMMV, or maybe of the idea that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, and therefore the less...etc.

https://www.librarything.com/topic/333774#7558529 ( )
  dchaikin | Jul 19, 2021 |
We are absurdly accustomed to the miracle of a few written signs being able to contain immortal imagery, involutions of thought, new worlds with live people, speaking, weeping, laughing. We take it for granted so simply that in a sense, by the very act of brutish routine acceptance, we undo the work of the ages, the history of the gradual elaboration of poetical description and construction, from the treeman to Browning, from the caveman to Keats. What if we awake one day, all of us, and find ourselves utterly unable to read?

Charles Kinbote simply tosses off little observations like this for almost no reason as he wanders through his spiraling story, weaving himself back and forth in time, unfolding the death of John Shade.* It is these moments of piercing clarity amidst the chaos that make this work much more than its story, more than its craft. The hints of sorrow and fear that occasionally ring through our narrator, suggesting that he knows the truth, are what make this heartbreaking. The sparkling, joyful hideousness of Kinbote, even (especially) when he is fully invested in his own tale, is what makes it fun. (That and the fact that it's a novel written in the end notes to a poem. And the whole book is part of the story. And it is holding hands with all the author's other books. I have a thing for things like this, you see.)

Truthfully, in terms of sheer enjoyment, this one is probably about a four for me; I loved it, but not it-took-over-my-life kind of loved. I take that to be a factor of where it falls in my own reading history; having already enjoyed its literary descendants, I am hungry for a more postmodern level of complexity. Unless it's Shade? If it's Shade, I seriously missed it. Damn, what if it's Shade? Onto the reread shelf with you! This is just one of the ones I wish I had encountered much sooner, before those other things. On the other hand, if I had read it sooner, I probably would not have recognized the sheer genius apparent in Nabokov's seemingly effortless writing. The clear, astounding language itself is the star here.

I would like to say something more significant, but I'm coming up short. So many others have reviewed this so much better than I could already. If you haven't read this one yet, give it a go. Then come back and read the first several reviews on the book's first page on GR. They're better than mine. (I especially like Manny's review.)

*Things that happen on the very first page (the very first sentence in fact) do not qualify as spoilers. And, yes, this is one of those books where you read the foreword. And of course the end notes. And the index. The whole book, Goodreaders. Read the whole book.

Personal note: Read in [b:Novels, 1955-1962: Lolita / Pnin / Pale Fire / The Lolita Screenplay|7807|Novels, 1955-1962 Lolita / Pnin / Pale Fire / The Lolita Screenplay|Vladimir Nabokov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347492521s/7807.jpg|10855], reviewing separately. (If I end up reading the whole omnibus I'll go back and fix all the shelving to get the book and page counts right, but right now I'm mostly planning on just reading this one. Mostly.) ( )
1 vote amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
You basically have two choices when you read Pale Fire: you can spend a few hours trying to puzzle out all the layers of metatextual games Nabokov troweled onto it, flipping back and forth between notes chasing what's "real" and "not real"; or you can just read it more or less straight through and treat the highbrow critical theory stuff as a neat but secondary adornment over Nabokov's typically lovely, erudite, I-can't-believe-he's-not-a-native-English-speaker prose. I mostly took the second path, because, while I always appreciate it when smart authors try to do cool stuff, I found the number of loose ends piling up as the novel progressed to be a little much, and I'm not sure that putting in the extra effort would have been rewarded.

I learned from the Wikipedia article that this type of metafiction falls into a sub-category called a "poioumenon", although the ostensible narrator's role in creating the central poem gives it an almost "Künstlerroman"-ish aspect. Then again, Kinbote's parodic professor character also hints at "roman à clef" elements as well. All these non-English terms are giving me a powerful desire to drink a domestic light beer and advocate the bombing of a foreign country, so I'll just cut to the chase. The novel's structure is four simple sections:
- a hilariously overblown Foreword, at the end of which the author, one Professor Charles Kinbote, helpfully advises us to buy 2 copies of the book so that we can better appreciate his marginal notes to a poem by John Shade, a lately deceased colleague/friend of his.
- a 999-line poem in four cantos called Pale Fire, which, while it comes off as deliberately bad, actually sort of grew on me as I was reading it (the opening lines "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure of the windowpane" makes me smile for some reason).
- a Commentary on the poem by Kinbote purporting to explain the poem's hidden references to the escape of the king of Zembla from his native country, which is by far the longest part of the book and where it gets weird.
- a short Index at the back containing a bunch of jokes at the reader's expense (I particularly liked the definition for Word Golf - "pale fire" itself seems to be playable, if that means anything).

The book's reputation really comes from the conceptual stuff in the Commentary, which is admittedly pretty clever. Before the Commentary really gets going, the default reader behavior is to simply take Kinbote at his word that he's just annotating this poem for his dead friend; if he seems just a little too attached to it, then it's easy to assume he's merely eccentric/obsessive/extremely boring. The town of New Wye that he lives in is obviously fake, but fake in the sense that Superman's Metropolis is fake - a story needs to be set somewhere. "Plausibly fictional", if that means anything. Then he starts really getting into the Zembla stuff, and it becomes apparent that Nabokov has made it very tricky to sort out exactly what's supposed to be "true" within the confines of the story and what's not. Obviously Shade's poem is not, as Kinbote would have it, a coded cipher of the story of the king of Zembla (and in fact seems to bear basically no relationship at all to Kinbote's exegesis), but what really is Shade's relationship to Kinbote, or Kinbote's to the king of Zembla? Maybe Kinbote is the king? Maybe Zembla, and Kinbote himself, don't actually exist at all? Many long academic papers have been written on this, and even though I'm not going to read them, it's somewhat reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who couldn't quite keep the levels of meta straight after one read.

The problem is that, despite this being a cool concept, and Nabokov's impressive abilities to conjure up all these overlapping violations of reader expectations, I found many of the actual pages of rarefied drollery kind of boring. For example, does it actually mean anything that the note to line 408 in the Commentary has the kid wearing four different types of shorts in the span of a few paragraphs ("a leopard-spotted loincloth", "ivy", "black bathing trunks", and "white tennis shorts")? Is the proto-hypertextual linking of the various notes to each other a clever way to dazzle the reader, or just a premonition of the tedious footnote-trawling gimmickry that Infinite Jest would later exploit? What do all of the subtle references to poetry, drama, previous Nabokov works, and so on eventually add up to? Do I really have to pretend that stuff like "In Zembla, where most females are freckled blondes, we have the saying: belwif ivurkumpf wid spew ebanumf, 'A beautiful woman should be like a compass rose of ivory with four parts of ebony.'" isn't sort of beneath Nabokov's talent?

Still, despite myself I did find it interesting to follow Nabokov around in the book. There's some good wordplay, and it doesn't feel bloated like Infinite Jest did. Lolita is a far better book, however. Games are cool, but I like to win them sometimes - I'm not sure there is anything to win after finishing Pale Fire. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Another Great Work that left me cold. Looking over commentary online it seems like the ideal way to experience this is to actually pursue all the interlinked commentary to decrypt what's going on, but the ending seems to spell things out explicitly enough that I don't see any real need to go back. I didn't really hate it, but I didn't love it either. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
i read the notes first, then stanza. if there were references to other notes in that note i jumped to the referred note and read that. suffice to say i was jumping around quite a bit. pretty fun. ( )
  stravinsky | Jan 1, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 125 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
If the introduction and notes are eccentric, the index is of a similar quality ... Kinbote's index is a symptom of his insanity.
adicionado por KayCliff | editarNew Writing 9, Robert Irwin (Dec 12, 2010)
The integration of events described in the index into the text of Pale fire clearly qualifies this index as an example of indexes as fiction. The complex trail of cross-references by which the whole book may be alternatively read makes it possible also to regard this novel as an example of fiction as index.
adicionado por KayCliff | editarThe Indexer, Hazel K. Bell (Aug 5, 1997)
In fact, “Pale Fire” is a curiosity into which it is agreeable to dip rather than a book which can be read straight through with pleasure.
adicionado por jlelliott | editarThe New York Times, George Cloyne (May 27, 1962)

» Adicionar outros autores (66 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Nabokov, Vladimirautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Blumenfeld, RobertNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
義之, 富士川Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Drews, KristiinaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Gorham, JohnDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kinbote, CharlesPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rorty, RichardIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Verstegen, PeterTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vietor, MarcNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
慎一郎, 森Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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This reminds me of the ludicrous account he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young gentleman of good family. "Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats." And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favorite cat, and said, "But, Hodge shan't be shot: no, no, Hodge shall not be shot."

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I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane.
Pale Fire, a poem in heroic couplets, of nine hundred ninty-nine lines, dividen into four cantos, was composed by Francis John Shade (born July 5, 1898, died July 21, 1959) during the last twenty days of his life, at his residence in New Wye, Appalachia, U.S.A
Pale Fire, a poem in heroic couplets, of nine hundred ninety-nine lines, divided into four cantos, was composed by John Francis Shade (born July 5, 1898, died July 21, 1959) during the last twenty days of his life, at his residence in New Wye, Appalachia, U.S.A.
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I have no desire to twist and batter an unambiguous apparatus criticus into the monstrous semblance of a novel.
No lips would share the lipstick of her smoke.
Shadows, the, a regicidal organization which commissioned Gradus (q.v.) to assassinate the self-banished king; its leader’s terrible name cannot be mentioned, even in the Index to the obscure work of a scholar; his maternal grandfather, a well-known and very courageous master builder, was hired by Thurgus the Turgid, around 1885, to make certain repairs in his quarters, and soon after that perished, poisoned in the royal kitchens, under mysterious circumstances, together with his three young apprentices whose pretty first names Yan, Yonny, and Angeling, are preserved in a ballad still to be heard in some of our wilder valleys.
I'm puzzled by the difference between / Two methods of composing. A, the kind / Which goes on solely in the poet's mind, / A testing of performing words, while he / Is soaping a third time one leg, and B, / The other kind, much more decorous, when / He's in his study wielding his pen.
Come and be worshiped, come and be caressed, My dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest My Admirable butterfly! Explain. - It is *so* like the heart of a scholar in search of a fond name to pile a butterfly genus upon an Orphic divinity on top of the inevitable allusion to Vanhomrigh, Esther! In this connection a couple of lines from one of Swift's poems (which in these backwoods I cannot locate) have stuck in my memory: When, lo! *Vanessa* in her bloom / Advanced like *Atalanta*'s star.
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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.

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Penguin Australia

2 edições deste livro foram publicadas por Penguin Australia.

Edições: 0141185260, 0141197242

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