Monday, June 10, 2024

Art, “its own special reality”, and the unreliability of Charles Kinbote in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” (1962)

In Vladimir Nabokov's "Pale Fire" (1962), Charles Kinbote refers in one of his annotations to the late poet John Shade's poem "Pale Fire" to "the basic fact that reality is neither the subject nor the object of true art which creates its own special reality having nothing to do with the average 'reality' perceived by the communal eye." This sounds like the character might well be serving as a mouthpiece for the author's own aesthetic views, but Kinbote's unreliability as a commentator and as a narrator at least complicates and perhaps even completely undermines any quotation of this particular passage as a clear, straightforward presentation of Nabokov's own understanding of art. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 10 June 2024)

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