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About the book
  • Published: 14 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780141185262
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $24.00

Pale Fire




Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, with its wildly original narrative structure, is a postmodern masterpiece from the author of Lolita, skewering the politics of academia, the struggle for interpretation, and the infinite subjectivity of human experience, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, Pale Fire, is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade's editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the 'Great Beaver', Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous? As his wildly eccentric annotations slide into the personal and the fantastical, Kinbote reveals perhaps more than he ought. Who is Charles Kinbote - could he be the exiled King Charles of Zembla, or the Russian madman, Professor Botkin? Or is he just another of John Shade's literary inventions? Nabokov's darkly witty, richly inventive masterwork is a suspenseful whodunit, a story of one-upmanship and dubious penmanship, and a glorious literary conundrum.


'Pale Fire must be one of the most brilliant and extraordinary novels ever written, let alone in the twentieth century'
William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart

  • Pub date: 14 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780141185262
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $24.00

About the Author

Vladimir Nabokov

One of the twentieth century's master prose stylists, Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977) was born in St Petersburg, but left Russia when the Bolsheviks seized power. He studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, where he launched a brilliant literary career. In 1940 he moved to the United States, and achieved renown as a novelist, poet, critic, and translator. He taught literature at Wellesley, Stanford, Cornell, and Harvard. In 1961 he moved to Montreux, Switzerland, where he died in 1977.

His first novel in English was The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, published in 1941. His other books include Ada or Ardor (1969), Laughter in the Dark (1933), Pale Fire (1962), the short story collection Details of a Sunset (1976) and Lolita (1955), his best-known novel.

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