Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire
I appreciate the postings by Sybarite and others, but, truth be told, _Pale Fire_ strikes me as more of a calculated exercise in ingenuity than a spontaneous work of art. I am in the midst of reading it presently, and I'm simply not enjoying it at all. I'm starting to think I have a love/hate relationship with Nabokov. I disliked Lolita, though I adore his short stories and definitely admired Laughter in the Dark,
King, Queen, Knave, and (to a lesser extent) Mary.
But back to Pale Fire.....
I almost feel as if Nabokov is saying, "Look at what a genius I am." It's obvious he's brilliant, but this is a work of immense calculation. It's very clever and extremely innovative. At the same time, it is soulless. There is no music behind the words. They're merely words. I find the commentary part of the book pedantic. Not that Nabokov can't be pedantic, at times. I think what disappoints me most about Pale Fire is that it fails to touch me on any level. I read that Nabokov hated music, and I don't believe I've ever seen this hatred show itself more vividly than in this book. The poem by the fictitious "John Shade" is beautiful. I have no criticism about that. But the commentary? My God, it is so wordy! You know, sometimes more can be said in fewer words. I'm not certain I'll even finish reading Pale Fire, because life is short and time is precious, and there are so many books out there that I haven't yet read and deeply yearn to read.
As for Lolita, I'm cognizant of the fact it's almost a sacrilege to criticize a work of such popularity and critical acclaim, particularly among literary circles. But I have never been a conformist. Indeed, I am far from it. My thoughts and opinions are all my own and no matter how strange, eccentric, or downright unpopular they may be, I refuse to apologize for them.
"To be nobody--but--yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop
"All men have the same defect: they wait to live, for they have not the courage of each instant.
Why not invest enough passion in each moment to make it an eternity?" ~E. M. Cioran