It's a shame that Pale Fire is overshadowed by Nabokov's lyrical masterpiece Lolita, but not so surprising given its complexity, which can be disorienting at times. Approach the book like a puzzle: the main body of the book is ostensibly a 999-line poem written by fictional poet John Shade (led by the gorgeous lines 'I am the shadow of the waxwing slain // by the false azure in the windowpane') but the real 'story' happens in the rambling, incoherent appendix compiled by Shade's obsessive admirer/stalker Charles Kinbote, which takes up three-quarters of the book's length. Or, perhaps the story happens somewhere in between? Pale Fire is Nabokov's fullest treatment of his recurrent themes of delusion, manipulation, desire, exile. For my money it's this book, not Lolita, that is the best proof of Nabokov's raw genius.
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