Amid news about tempests of sand in Bagdad and Michael Jackson's wake
in Neverland, I remembered that today we also celebrate the birthdays of John
Shade, Charles Kinbote and Gradus.
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Pale Fire Quiz 1
1. Where is Charles Kinbote when he
writes his commentary to "Pale Fire"?
2. What is the "crystal
3. When does Charles the Beloved's
rule as king end?
What is Charles Kinbote's other identity?
5. When is John Shade's
6. Which of the following characters lives
7. Who allegedly stars in "The Case of the
8. Who attempts to commit
"a frozen stillicide?"
9. Who wrote "Friends Beyond"?
10. From what text is the title of John Shade's poem, "Pale Fire,"
Timon of Athens
Man and Superman
Two Gentlemen of
Here is an excerpt and bonus for today's celebrations, now Boyd on
Pale Fire and autobiographical transformations ( from www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/boyd-pale.html )
"In a kind of postscript to Speak, Memory that he withheld from
publication during his lifetime, and that has just been published for the
centenary of his birth, Nabokov dons the mask of a reviewer of his
autobiography, and writes, among amusingly disparaging comments, of the
"retrospective acumen and creative concentration that the author had to summon
in order to plan his book according to the way his life had been planned by
unknown players of games." Shade writes his autobiographical poem in exactly the
same spirit. Conscious, after the fountain-mountain confusion, that his
very quest to explore the beyond makes him seem a mere toy of the gods, he
derives a sense of the playfulness hidden deep in things, and feels that he can
perhaps understand and participate a little in this playfulness, if only
obliquely, through the pleasure of shaping his own world in verse, through
playing his own game of worlds, through sensing and adding to the design in and
behind his world."
There is also a reference in P. Meyer and Jeff Hoffman's article "Infinite
Reflections in Nabokov's "Pal Fire": the Danish Connection
( Hans Andersen and Isak Dinesen), found through: linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0304347997852076