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March 12, 2007

So Should I Cry Now? Or Later? How about both?

Nabokov, Pale Fire -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Ok so I began reading this darn book before the semester even started and I can't find my notes so yeah, I pretty much don't even care anymore. And I would love to know how the heck I am supposed to use intertextuality to analyze this novel when I have certain never read anything else by Vladimir Nabokov and I have never read anything thing else that uses a fake persona to write a foreword and commentary on another fake persona's literary works. At first I thought it was interesting and I thought the commentary was going to be enlightening but it really just seems very random and full of anecdotes about Kinbote and his experiences with Shade than about the poem he is supposed to be commenting on. I have no idea where to even begin except to say that Nabokov was very creative and ambitious to create the entire life story of a character through a poem and then to write a novel that includes the poem as if the fake character wrote it and then to create another character to be his friend to comment on it and make sure that it was published after he died.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at March 12, 2007 11:30 PM


By flipping back and forth between the poem and the notes, you are already practicing intertextuality.

Even if you have never read anything else Nabokov wrote, you have read all sorts of scholarly essays, and you know the conventions of academic literary analysis -- for instance, Kinbote is putting way too much of himself into what is ostensibly an analysis of a literary work.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 13, 2007 12:08 PM

So even though I'm just flipping back and forth within what is essentially the same work, it still counts as intertextuality?

Posted by: Lorin at March 14, 2007 12:32 PM

Not just any work. But this work mimics the relationship between poem and critique, so you can compare the poem to a "real" poem and the critique to a "real" critique. (But just because the poem has a fictional author doesn't make it any less a poem; likewise, just because the critique has a fictional author, we can still evaluate it as a critique.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 14, 2007 2:32 PM

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