Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’ is the Most Beautiful Book of the Yearby Megan Sexton · November 10, 2011
Publisher’s Weekly Blog PWxyz has posted an article describing how Gingko Press’s new addition of Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire is—according to him—the most aesthetically beautiful book of the year. A taste of the article:
“Pale Fire” (order it here) is the product of three years’ passion, originally conceived by Jean Holabird, an artist who suggested the idea to longtime friend, Gingko’s publisher, Mo Cohen. Cohen became the spearhead for the project, seeking out Nabokov expert Bryan Boyd, working with project coordinator Anika Heusermann and even traveling to Montreux to spend a day with Dmitri Nabokov, discussing the project and watching endurance car racing on TV. I make mention of passion because you can feel three years’ work when you hold this book. Its contents, hidden within a black box that unfolds this way and that much in the way Nabokov’s book does, feel substantial; they feel important. When you hold the book, you remember that books can actually just be beautiful things.
Pale Fire, the book, is a masterpiece and a puzzle, one that can be read multiple ways and one that can be interpreted multiple ways. It’s a mystery that reveals itself through its construction, and its constituent parts fit together like sections of a fine-tuned symphony. If you haven’t read it, read it.
But, now on to “Pale Fire” as Gingko does it. What you should first know about this edition is that it doesn’t include any mention of Kinbote–his introduction and his footnotes are missing and Shade’s epic poem is left to fend for itself. “Pale Fire” the poem is freed from Pale Fire the book, decontextualized and given a new lease on life.
Much of the discussion around Pale Fire the book is “Pale Fire” the poem, Shade’s 999 lines, many initially contending that the poem is Nabokov intentionally watering-down his wit for satire’s sake (for more on this, read Ron Rosenbaum’s excellent piece from Slate; the merits of Shade’s poems are also fiercely defended in the two essays contained in Gingko’s box set), but, like the book’s rising reputation over time, more and more arguing that the poem is, in and of itself, a great piece of poetry and certainly, according to Cohen and his team at Gingko, worth being set apart from its prose context so it can be admired in the way it’s always deserved.”
You can read the rest of the article here!