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Pale Fire | [Vladimir Nabokov]

Pale Fire

A 999 line poem in heroic couplets, divided into 4 cantos, was composed--according to Nabokov's fiction--by John Francis Shade, an obsessively methodical man, during the last 20 days of his life.
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Publisher's Summary

A 999 line poem in heroic couplets, divided into 4 cantos, was composed--according to Nabokov's fiction--by John Francis Shade, an obsessively methodical man, during the last 20 days of his life.

©1962 Vera Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov (P)2010 Audible, Inc

What the Critics Say

"This centaur-work, half poem, half prose . . . is a creation of perfect beauty, symmetry, strangeness, originality and moral truth. Pretending to be a curio, it cannot disguise the fact that it is one of the great works of art of this century." (Mary McCarthy, The New Republic)

"Of all [Nabokov's] inventions, Pale Fire is the wildest, the funniest and the most earnest. It is like nothing on God's earth." (New York Herald Tribune)

"A monstrous, witty, intricately entertaining work . . . done with dazzling skill." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (108 )
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4.1 (79 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David Macon, GA, United States 01-02-11
    David Macon, GA, United States 01-02-11
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    "Quality recording!"

    This audiobook has two well-chosen narrators: one for Shade's poem and another - Vietor, I assume - for the commentary. The poem narrator also reads the opening reference lines to each footnote which breaks up the flow nicely and gives aural cues for each new note. Because of the highly non-linear structure induced by cross-references in the commentary, some may recommend constantly pausing and consulting a hard copy. Pale Fire demands to be reread and further explored in ways which might render the audiobook useless. This was perhaps an opportunity to be more creative with the audiobook indexing, but instead you just get roughly hour-long chunks.

    Alas, I found my first reading to be fabulously enjoyable, if not entirely illuminating, without such devices (straight-through). Well-read, never dull voicings, 5 stars

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-15-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-15-12 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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    "A Gentle Ghost of a Poet"

    One of the funniest, most absurdly brilliant books I've ever read. I find it amazing that Nabakov would have written this novel (which oddly is a haunting retelling of my life story) without mentioning me by name at all. There must be a reason for this. Perhaps Nabakov was trying to not just protect me, but my whole family from the fame and pain that would no doubt have accompanied the public's inquisitiveness and the critics' vampirism if this information had been made plain and obvious. That is what I love about Nabakov. He is a gentle ghost of a poet that exists in many levels and in many times and in many spaces simultaneously. I think his integrity in lying about and hiding my influence is both beautiful and nobel and certainly shaking with a heterosexual, Russian poet's naiveté

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jocelyn Melbourne, Australia 06-17-11
    Jocelyn Melbourne, Australia 06-17-11
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    "Pale Fire"

    This narration is everything you want in a complex story. Vietor's interpretation is extraordinary and really captures the idiosyncracies of 'Charlie/Kimbote/King Charles the Beloved'.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Old Washington, OH, United States 01-09-11
    David Old Washington, OH, United States 01-09-11 Member Since 2005
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    "What is postmodernism?"

    "There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings."



    Very nice addition to Audible.This is a difficult book, made a little difficult by this excellent production. It is a great narration, and fun to listen to. Before you buy, Google "Pale Fire" and read about it.

    The book is completely non-linear, I listened in the car and while walking, then got a paperback edition for 50 cents and read different parts at night. This isn't Dean Koontz or David Baldacci, but something very unique.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Howell, NJ, United States 03-27-12
    Roger Howell, NJ, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2011

    An avid reader who once abhorred the concept of "listening" to books, I now enjoy audiobooks as an alternative to the radio while commuting.

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    "An amazing feat for such a unique novel"

    While I highly recommend this selection, I can only recommend it to those who have read the printed novel first. Nabokov's book consists of a long poem written by John Shade, and a rambling, often hilarious, "commentary" written by Charles Kinbote, self-proclaimed king-in-exile from his beloved country of Zembla. As the commentary refers to specific lines of the 999-line poem, I was curious as to how the producers of the audiobook would handle these two distinct components. I was delighted by the choice to employ two narrators, Robert Blumenfeld for Shade and Marc Vietor for Kinbote. Both are excellent, but Vietor's Kinbote is what makes this audiobook so special. His unidentifiable (slightly Russian) accent and self-assured cockiness bring the exiled king (or plain madman) spring to life. Fans of the book should not feel they are wasting a credit by buying a book they've already read. Listening to Pale Fire will bring a new level of appreciation to Nabokov's brilliant novel.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RM Simon 09-05-11
    RM Simon 09-05-11 Member Since 2008
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    "An unusual audio experience"

    I listened to this after having reread the book, which I first read when it was published (and disliked). This time I found it far more palatable. I can't imagine, though, what it would be like for someone who hadn't already read the book to listen to it. My opinionated opinion: The reading is wonderful. As for the book, the poem is a craftsmanlike and interesting one; the commentary, which occupies the largest part of the book, is immensely clever in the expected Nabokovian way, attributes many of Nabokov's prejudices to the ostensible narrator, Charles Kinbote, but fails for this reader because the story that narrator alludes to in the commentary, that of the birth, upbringing and exile of Charles Xavier, King of the Zemblans, is just not interesting.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Quintana Real Estate New Mexico 02-13-14
    Steve Quintana Real Estate New Mexico 02-13-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Literature at its Comic Inventive Best"
    Where does Pale Fire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Pale Fire is in the top rank of the audiobooks I have listened to so far. Nabokov's work is the pinnacle of word craft. This audiobook is endlessly interesting and one you can rehear many times and each time appreciate this work of high art.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The "author" of the book is the most interesting character. He narrates the story while the narrator reads the book.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The conclusion of the commentary at the end of chapter eight. The many possibilities explaining who Jack Gray was and who he sought illustrate the ingenuity of the story.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    You thought it couldn't be done.


    Any additional comments?

    The book can and should be listened to several times. The lyric of the prose is sufficient reward for each relistening. Untangling the artful chaos can only be done with multiple hearings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Gettica MD, USA 01-07-14
    Gettica MD, USA 01-07-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Not a good book for audio"

    This is not a book to read on a long car ride. This is a participatory book. You should have either two copies of the book or excellent book-marking skills. You will be leafing back and forth between the poem and the footnotes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Fog Encino, Ca, United States 12-19-13
    Fog Encino, Ca, United States 12-19-13 Member Since 2012

    Don't like bad narrators ruining good writing. To be fair, liking someone's voice is subjective but good narration has sensitivity, nuance, power and a rich understanding of the text. Minor pet peeve: narrators who've not researched foreign pronunciation or elevated English. Lazy!

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    "Maybe even better than 'Lolita'!"
    Would you listen to Pale Fire again? Why?

    I listen to this recording often. Marc Vietor has a wonderful drole sense of humour. He is a narrator actually worthy of the piece. Thanks MV. I am also reading the book because it is a totally different way to imbibe. Nabokov is so great you can enjoy him over and over. In Pale Fire, he moves through ideas so quickly, each re-hearing feels like the first time.
    An outstanding buy.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Pale Fire?

    Too many to mention.


    If you could take any character from Pale Fire out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I can never get enough of Dr C Kinbote! I want to hear him declaim.


    Any additional comments?

    do yourself a favour.buy it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah AUSTIN, TX, United States 09-01-12
    Deborah AUSTIN, TX, United States 09-01-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Be Prepared - dark dark dark"

    The further I get away from this the more I appreciate it. I had heard repeatedly that this was a comic novel, which is not the first word I'd choose to describe a tale of murder, madness and a child's suicide. Yes, it has some funny parts but so does Lolita, which is not generally classified as humor. With these expectations I was sorely disappointed.

    But Pale Fire is a tour de force of structure whose place in the canon I'd agree to. And the story and characters are compelling -- I couldn't stop listening. And the narration is as good as it gets, two gifted performances of extremely challenging roles.Just don't expect a light hearted romp.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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