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March 9, 2007

Starting The Pale Fire That Burned Me

Pale Fire, Nabokov

Literary Criticism--EL312

During one of our classes, Dr Jerz stated that as English majors we can't shy away from books that we think are confusing and disinteresting. So this is my attempt to do an agenda item on this confusing poem.

Nabokov took me to a lot of places in this poem. The main character, John Shade, is a complex character who devouts this whole poem on the aspect of death and the afterlife.

Infinite afterlife: above your head
They close like giant wings, and you are dead (lines 123-124)

Shade, through out the whole poem, you get a feeling of hopelessness and doom. Most people, especially in 1950's America believes in God. Nevertheless, due to all of Shade's misfortunes, he differs from that point with this phrase:

No free man needs a God... (line 101)

Another character Charles Kinbote (who seems to be an exiled king) even argues with him about this. Anyway he also talks about facination, in his near death experience as a child he describes a white fountain from then on. What dies it represent...heaven...peace. Nabokov created a whole world around Pale Fire (A Poet, An Editor, The Shade family) so what criticism do we place this under?
One thing is for certain that the poem (or should I say novel since everything including the commentary is made by a fictional character) is up for intrepretation by anyone.

What criticism do you think would be easy to use on Pale Fire?

Posted by KevinHinton at March 9, 2007 10:30 PM


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