<i>Pale Fire</i> and the Genre of the Literary Game

Thomas Karshan

in Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603985
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725333 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Pale Fire and the Genre of the Literary Game

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Although the main movement of Nabokov's American writing is towards free play, in Pale Fire he produced a work which is like a game, in the way it encourages an active reader to rearrange its pieces, to try out various imaginative possibilities, and to solve its innumerable puzzles. John Shade's epiphany about the gods playing a game of worlds provides an image for Pale Fire, which is about the relation between world games and word games. Chapter 6 shows how in Pale Fire, Nabokov wrote a literary game inspired by his work on editing Eugene Onegin, in the research for which he learned about a tradition of the lusus or literary game which goes forward from Alexander Pope to Pushkin, and back to Erasmus and More. Pale Fire imitates Alexander Pope's Dunciad and weaves an intricate allusive web to Pope's work.

Keywords: Nabokov; play; satire; aestheticism; humanism; language; reading; intertextuality; allusion; influence; Alexander Pope; Swift; doubles

Chapter.  17503 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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