log(book)
Cover of Pale Fire.

Pale Fire

author: Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
date read: 2019-12-02
pages: 248
rating: β˜… β˜… β˜… β˜† β˜†

Pale Fire was my second book by Vladimir Nabokov, and it curiously resembled the first one (Lolita, naturally): An unreliable narrator, who felt incredibly off-putting, full of himself, and mentally ill. I do want to note that the narrator is gay and there is no obvious stigmatisation associated with the fact.

Other than that, wow, what a book. The form is genius, of course: It’s a 999 line poem, and the story, such as it is, is told through the commentary by the editor-slash-narrator. So much meta, especially with the narrator being a literary immigrant to the US from a slavic country. (Maybe.) So much meta. I got a lot of amusement out of imagining the actual commentary to Pale Fire, because Nabokov hit the sometimes-factual-sometimes-condescending tone of literary commentary very well in places. Because, of course, Nabokov is a genius with words, and structure, and cleverness. From a technical perspective, the book is excellent. But it also invoked an unpleasant, even unclean feeling, in ways similar to how Kafka evokes despair very directly. I can appreciate the literary genius and craft involved, but I don’t think I’ll read more Nabokov in the near future.