PART TWO of my review of PALE FIRE continued from here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/04/06/pale-fire-vladimir-nabokov/

My previous reviews of older or classic books: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reviews-of-older-books/

My review of Vladimir Nabokov’s collected Stories: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/collected-stories-vladimir-nabokov/

When I read this book, covfefe permitting, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

12 responses to “*

  1. Up to line 149

    “A handshake, a flash of lightning.”

    Being a line from the commentary of course, not the Cantos upon which it is commenting! The Zemblan King — who spurns a sexy mountain girl’s doffing, a girl with “blancmange breasts” — is fitting to how this book might be a potential LGBTQ classic of literature by negative default? A new Humbert Humbert now turning his back on what a Garh he might have desired? Or have I got the literary chronology wrong? Anyway, following a clockwork toy, a rusty ‘“negro” with a wheelbarrow that Shade owned, to a mere mention of a mountain in the Cantos allowing Kinbote to give a whole new chunk of his Zemblan story!

    “Well, anyway, take off that red fufa.”

    The clockwork toy is more interesting to me – and here is a section of Nemonymous Night (2011) to synchronistically cross-reference:

    [[… as if someone had just taken them off in a pique of feminine tantrum.
    The city zoo echoed with snorting squawks. After all, it was only humanity gone missing for the nonce. And a few (very few) residual clockwork toys in the insect enclosure were still pitifully trying to bury themselves.
    “Dreams leak, books leak…” Rachel Mildeyes (from MY CULINARY AFFAIR WITH BIRDS WHITE SAUCE) ]]

  2. Up to line 171: A great conspiracy

    “Who can forget the good-natured faces, glossy with sweat, of copper-chested railway workers leaning upon their spades…”

    I rather resent being forced to decry the interpretations of forced references to and deployments of a ludicrous inner story of fake history — and thus to disrespect those references’ perpetrator … but that does not necessarily imply that I disrespect EVERYTHING about the leaseholder Kinbote and his baggage. The fact that I have these mixed emotions about being manipulated brings me a great respect for the freeholder Nabokov who is here showing that great fiction is all about such manipulation as constructive irritation! Otherwise, I would, before finishing it, launch this hardback book into the rubbish bin.
    I still might!
    Loved the airborne machines, meanwhile.

  3. Line 172: books and people

    That line’s simple reference above is sufficient excuse, it seems, for Kinbote to reproduce conversations he had with Shade, about book reviewers such as me. This is either a conspiracy against me by both of them or, more likely, just Kinbote as a shade of Shade. Accused me of not reading the book I review or “Having read it like an idiot.” If I do not return here to continue my review, you will now know why. Either I’d’ve taken justified umbrage or, more likely, with over a hundred pages still to be read, I’d’ve despaired finally of this Kinbote commentary going anywhere except up his arse! Nothing wears rezemblance so much as incognition.

  4. 977FD691-208B-4041-AEEC-634A8BDB9CE4

    I thought I would interrupt my (perhaps petulant!) silence, to draw attention to above passage. You can imagine what I thought about that! Especially many years ago on HERE, I said it was the one book I wanted to be buried with.


  5. Still, I can admit to sympathising and empathising with Kinbote when I read his image of a ‘you’ (i.e. me) in his own commentary about Shade’s “sensation of odd instability as if parts of the everyday, smoothly running world had got unscrewed, and you became aware that one of your tires was rolling beside you, or that your steering wheel had come off.”
    Literature transcends itself, when flayed or flensed to the ‘now’ of its real-time core as gestalt.

  6. According to Kinbote, Shade’s wife Sybil called Kinbote “a king-sized botfly”, inter alia. He is now a sporadic and ephemeral internet ‘bot’ fly-by-night for real I guess, by dint of his name’s appearance in countless commentaries on Nabokov, including my own gestalt reviews such as this one. Kinbote a google search term by its own right. A hoax gone viral. A modest proposal. The Haunted Barn theatrical playlet, notwithstanding.

    “I notice a whiff of Swift in some of my notes.”

    “Science tells us, by the way, that the Earth would not merely fall apart, but vanish like a ghost,…”

    “…(and I recall the poet’s expression of stupefaction) that ‘spider’ in reverse is ‘redips’, and T.S. Eliot,’ ‘toilest.’ But then it is also true that Hazel Shade resembled me in certain respects.”

  7. After dealing with characters who claim Kinbote is (rightly) not a suitable person to edit Shade’s posthumous work, you may draw what conclusions you like from this Kinbote-reported exchange.


    I suggest that choice of mine of a quote from this commentary, as some sort of core – or, at least, some corona – of our literary sun, and to become such a sun, I deem myself as the best candidate for choosing such quotes and examples of this Kinbote work. Transcending Nabokov, the freeholder, himself! The remixer of Hades.

  8. Talk of the use of the words ‘Negro’ versus ‘Colored’ — and talk of God and Religion and spirituality, Kinbote versus Shade.

    And these lines mentioned:
    Lines 557-558:
    ‘How to locate in blackness, with a gasp,
    Terra Fair, an orbicle of jasp’
    The loveliest couplet in this canto.”

    The loveliest? Kinbote is at best a wayward critic, I say!

    Re the ‘how to locate in blackness’ angle, cf ‘Vantablack’ that I am concurrently reviewing HERE.

    • Line 550

      At this point, I realise, perhaps for the first time, that Kinbote is dabbling here with an act of gestalt real-time reviewing. During this entry, he even changes his mind in real-time about one of his previous entries. I am thankful that I came along in 2008 to perfect this method of commentary, following Kinbote’s indisciplined attempts at it. Still I tip my hat at him for once being an inchoate and naive pioneer in such a discipline. And at Nabokov for revealing such a real person as opposed to a fictional one.


    Line 691

    “John Shade’s heart attack (Oct. 17, 1958) practically coincided with the disguised king’s arrival in America where he descends by parachute…”

    But was it really a heart attack? We only have Kinbote’s Intentional Fallacy to hang our hats on.

  10. “Line 937: Old Zembla
    I am a weary and sad commentator today.
    So this is all treacherous old Shade could say about Zembla — my Zembla? While shaving his stubble off? Strange, strange…”

    Hades as Shade, reaching beyond the Pale of blackened Shade that Fire does to whatever it burns. (See my wise commentary on page 62 of Vantablack today here.)

    I am a weary and sad commentator, too. I even have to cut my own hair while in lockdown. I will not give Old King Kinbote any further grace. Nor will I deign to reach emergency line 1000 in a set of 4 cantos that actually end with line 999. O, I literally CAN’T.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s