By Vladimir Nabokov
Books - Just The Good Stuff
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov ranked # 53 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list as selected by its Board Members.
Pale Fire (1962) is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, his fourteenth in total and fifth in English. Many of Nabokov's admirers consider it his most significant book, and it has drawn a great deal of critical attention, with commentators offering a wide variety of interpretations.
Some readers concentrate on the apparent story (a minority believe that Zembla is as "real" as New Wye), focusing on traditional aspects of fiction such as the relationship among the characters. They may make a case that Kinbote is parasitic on Shade, or that Shade's poem is mediocre and Kinbote, the inventor of Zembla, is a true genius. In 1999, Brian Boyd published a much-discussed study arguing that the ghost of the poet's daughter, Hazel Shade, influenced the commentary as well as the poem itself, and that the ghost of John Shade influenced Kinbote's contributions.
Other readers see a story quite different from the apparent narrative. "Shadeans" maintain that John Shade wrote not only the poem, but the commentary as well, having invented his own death and the character of Kinbote as a literary device. "Kinboteans", a decidedly smaller group, believe that Kinbote invented the existence of John Shade. Some see the book as oscillating undecidably between these alternatives, like the drawing that may be two profiles or a goblet.
Top 100 Books of All Time
Search Our Site For Music, Films, and Books