New Books

New Books by Sewanee Review Authors

R. S. Gwynn's Take on Nabokov, American poet

Vladimir Nabokov established himself as one of the foremost novelists of his age when Lolita appeared on U.S. soil in 1958.  In 1962, when Pale Fire appeared, he not only further cemented his eminent status, but also took his characteristic literary play to a whole new level. Part 999-line poem by fictional poet John Shade, part critical commentary by fictional neighbor and self-appointed editor, Charles Kinbote, Pale Fire is one of those disruptively original works that redefines the novel (or, perhaps, reemphasizes what a novel is supposed to be, after all). However Gingko Press's new edition excludes the maniacal and cluelessly narcissistic ramblings of Kinbote to highlight the achievement of Shade's (read: Nabokov's) titular poem on its own terms.  The SR's R. S. Gwynn here teams up with the preeminent Nabokov scholar Brian Boyd both to reproduce this fantastic poem and to provide critical commentary on its context and significance.  For his own part, Gwynn places the poem in relation to its contemporary American counterparts with his usual insight and wit.  Read a full review from the New Yorker here.