Pale Fire

fiction by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov


Pale Fire is a postmodern novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional John Shade, with a foreword and lengthy commentary by a neighbor and academic colleague of the poet, Charles Kinbote. Together these elements form a narrative in which both authors are central characters. Pale Fire has spawned a wide variety of interpretations and a large body of written criticism, which Pekka Tammi estimated in 1995 as over 80 studies. The Nabokov authority Brian Boyd has called it "Nabokov's most perfect novel", and the critic Harold Bloom called it "the surest demonstration of his own genius ... that remarkable tour de force". It was ranked at number 53 on the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels and number 1 on Larry McCaffery's 20th Century’s Greatest Hits: 100 English-Language Books of Fiction.

First Published


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