Arion Lyre

43. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, with a frontispiece portrait of the author by Andrew Hoyem, 1994.

Slipcase with bindings: main volume for novel, companion volume for poem.Considered the highest artistic achievement of Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962) was written in a complex form that satirizes academic literary analysis and has two fictitious authors: a mad professor named Charles Kinbote and a poet named John Shade. The poem Pale Fire by Shade, of 999 lines, is explicated in a commentary by Kinbote, and, when read together, the story of the poet and his family are merged with the fantastical lives of his critic, perhaps an exiled king and perhaps an assassin. Readers of the novel will be intrigued by its puzzles, amused by its wild humor, moved by its profundity, and struck by its beauty and brilliance. We solved by internal evidence one of the mysteries of the book by establishing for the first time the lineation of the poem so that the small volume conforms to the set of index cards described as its manuscript in the novel.


Format: 10-7/8 by 6-7/8 inches, 288 pages. The types are Monotype Fridericus and handset Torino. The paper is English mouldmade Somerset. A second volume, providing a second copy of the poem Pale Fire for reference, is in the format of the ostensible manuscript, 4 by 6 inches, 84 pages, with the same type and paper. Both volumes are bound in full purple cloth, with inset gold cloth disks for gold titling, and are enclosed in a gold cloth slipcase. Edition of 200 copies, $600.00. Out of print.

Title Page with portrait of author as shade.
Title page with portrait of author as "Shade".

index card pages of poem
"Index card" pages of poem.

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Edition: The format is 10-7/8 by 6-7/8 inches, 288 pages; a second volume is 4 by 6 inches, 84 pages. Both bound in full purple cloth, in slipcase. The edition is limited to 200 copies for sale. Price: $600. Out of print.