Saturday, 21 July 2012

Book #64 Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov is the story of Charles Kinbote, who following the death of his "friend" the esteemed poet John Shade, publishes Shades last work Pale Fire, a poem of Four Cantos, alongside a personal introduction by Kinbote, and an extensive commentary upon the lines of the poem.

Kinbote, certainly is more than he appears to be, and who he is, or more accurately who he thinks he is, is revealed slowly via his introduction and commentary. Kinbote, obsessed with Shade, develops a stalker like infatuation with him, and in many ways steals this last poem, ferociously inserting himself and the story of his homeland Zembla into the inspiration and meaning behind Shade's last work, a work which to the reader appears to actually be autobiographical and about Shade's wife and dead daughter.

The vast majority of the novel concerns delusional, mentally compromised, Kinbote taking small lines of Pale Fire perhaps a word or two and then extrapolating huge chunks of Zemblan history from it, various kings, queens, and dissidents, at enormous length and the life of Shade as reflected in the poem barely gets a look in.

The prose is "purple prose" excessively verbose and extremely annoying. Though this is in keeping with the character of Charles Kinbote, for me, it was a complete turn off as a reader.

If I am to be perfectly honest about this novel, I thought it was fucking dreadful, I didn't enjoy it on any single level, I was by turns bored and irritated beyond measure and if it had not been as few as 239 pages I would have given up on it entirely.

I really could not have cared less or been less interested in bloody Zembla and yet it goes on, and on, and on, with few moments of respite.

My overall feeling about Pale Fire in the end is that it is one of "those books" that people make a fuss over and praise because they think it's an intelligent novel and to praise Nabokov is to announce to your general acquaintance that you belong to a certain kind of elitist "intelligentsia" which elevates you from the average general masses you have the misfortune to be surrounded by. Basically a wanky book about a wanker for  other wankers to name drop into the conversation, and then say " haven't read Pale Fire" and thereby claim some kind of arbitrary superiority of their own invention.

I'm sure, faithful readers, you can tell how much I liked this book!!!! 0/10 Turd!

(Yes, that's right! I gave 50 Shades more points than Nabokov)

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