Pale Fire

Vladimir Nabokov


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Orion Publishing Co
30 May 2024
ISBN: 9781474620871
272 pages

From the publisher

'Such a beautiful and mysterious book' Zadie Smith

'One of the greatest books I've ever read. Its heart is strange, but it is huge; let yours beat in response' MARY GAITSKILL

Pale Fire, a 999-line poem, is the final work of the celebrated - and recently murdered - American author, John Francis Shade.

Here that poem is transcribed, introduced and annotated (at length) by Shade's fellow scholar, neighbour and apparent friend, Charles Kinbote.

Approaching this task with gusto, Kinbote's annotations reveal conclusive evidence of his own impact on Shade, disguised references to the northern land of Zembla, which he may or may not have once ruled over, and fuel for his many preoccupations and paranoia.

And - as his annotations become more desperate, more deluded, more deranged - Kinbote unintentionally sheds new light on the poet's last days and the pair's 'glorious friendship'.

A murder mystery, a work of wild invention, a reimagining of what the novel can do, a piece of exquisite comedy, Pale Fire is widely regarded as Nabokov's masterpiece and one of the most brilliant novels ever written.

A W&N Essential with an introduction from Mary Gaitskill