Friday, 3 June 2011

Nabakov - Pale Fire

So here we go with some more literary dippings, this time in the form of some high-brow poetic conundrums from Nabakov. Rich in imagery, rich in symbolism, rich in wit and at times rich in furrowed brows, this is about a murdered poet's 999-line poem (or canto) dissected by one of his university colleagues, and friend, Charles Kinbote. This book can literally be read and interpreted in many ways, but it's worth it for a) Kinbote's deranged and eccentric ramblings about the land of Zembla – a mythical Scandinavian country where an exuberant, homosexual and deposed King, Charles the 'Beloved', has to flee after a revolution, and b) for trying to fathom who Kinbote actually is.

“In simple words I described the curious situation in which the King found himself during the first months of the rebellion. He had the amusing feeling of his being the the only black piece in what a composer of chess problems might term the king-in-the-corner waiter of the solus rex type. The Royalists, or at least the Modems (Moderate Democrats), might still have prevented the state from turning into a commonplace modern tyranny, had they been able to cope with the tainted gold and robot troops that a powerful police state from its vantage ground a few sea miles away was pouring into the Zemblan Revolution... The King refused to abdicate. A haughty and morose captive, he was caged in his rose-stone palace from a corner turret of which one could make out with the help of field glasses lithe youths diving into the swimming pool of a fairy tale sport club, and the English ambassador in old-fashioned flannels playing tennis with the Basque coach on a clay court remote as paradise. How serene were the mountains, how tenderly painted on the western vault of the sky!


  1. try his 'invitation to a beheading' it's a great little surreal mindgame

  2. this is a great blog, really like the stuff you've posted about abandoned communities and derelict buildings, also made me want to read Faulkner and Gogol again...oh yeah and silver pyre are fugn good too