Nabokov's Pale Fire by Brian Boyd
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Nabokov's "Pale Fire"
By Brian Boyd

Nabokov's "Pale Fire"

The Magic of Artistic Discovery

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Format: Paperback

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Nabokov's Pale Fire by Brian Boyd

Book Awards

  • Shortlisted for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2000.

Book Description

Pale Fire is regarded by many as Vladimir Nabokov's masterpiece. The novel has been hailed as one of the most striking early examples of postmodernism and has become a famous test case for theories about reading because of the apparent impossibility of deciding between several radically different interpretations. Does the book have two narrators, as it first appears, or one? How much is fantasy and how much is reality? Whose fantasy and whose reality are they? Brian Boyd, Nabokov's biographer and hitherto the foremost proponent of the idea that Pale Fire has one narrator, John Shade, now rejects this position and presents a new and startlingly different solution that will permanently shift the nature of critical debate on the novel. Boyd argues that the book does indeed have two narrators, Shade and Charles Kinbote, but reveals that Kinbote had some strange and highly surprising help in writing his sections. In light of this interpretation, Pale Fire now looks distinctly less postmodern--and more interesting than ever. In presenting his arguments, Boyd shows how Nabokov designed Pale Fire for readers to make surprising discoveries on a first reading and even more surprising discoveries on subsequent readings by following carefully prepared clues within the novel. Boyd leads the reader step-by-step through the book, gradually revealing the profound relationship between Nabokov's ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, and metaphysics. If Nabokov has generously planned the novel to be accessible on a first reading and yet to incorporate successive vistas of surprise, Boyd argues, it is because he thinks a deep generosity lies behind the inexhaustibility, complexity, and mystery of the world. Boyd also shows how Nabokov's interest in discovery springs in part from his work as a scientist and scholar, and draws comparisons between the processes of readerly and scientific discovery. This is a profound, provocative, and compelling reinterpretation of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691089577
ISBN-10: 0691089574
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 15-Oct-2001
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Brian Boyd

Letters to Vera by Brian Boyd Letters to Vera, Paperback (February 2016)

No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer lasted longer than Vladimir Nabokov's. From their meeting in 1921, Vladimir's letters to his beloved Vera form a narrative arc that tells a forty-six year-long love story. This book features these letters that tell us much about the man and the writer.

U2 Experience by Brian Boyd U2 Experience, Hardback (September 2015)

U2's career as the rock group spans nearly four decades, the band have produced one hit album after another. This book documents and archives all the band's achievements, and features 20 items of removable facsimile memorabilia, including posters, tickets, flyers and signed photographs.

Why Lyrics Last by Brian Boyd Why Lyrics Last, Hardback (April 2012)

Why Lyrics Last turns an evolutionary lens on lyric verse, placing the writing of verse within the human disposition to play with pattern. Boyd takes as an extended example the many patterns to be found within Shakespeare's Sonnets. There, the Bard avoids all narrative and demonstrates the power that verse can have when liberated of story.

» View all books by Brian Boyd


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Author Biography - Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd is a Professor of English at the University of Auckland. New Zealand. He is the author of the prize-winning Viadimir Nabokov The Russian Years (Princeton) Viadimr Nabokov: The American Years (Princeton), and Nabokov's Ada The Place of Consciousness. He has also edited Nabokov's English novels and autobiography for the Library of America and Nabokov's Butterflies for Beacon Press.

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