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AlbertJayNock

Nabokov's Pale Fire And Digital Technology

I still haven't purchased a kindle. I still might purchase a kindle. And this, dear reader, is probably not the last time you see me publicly weigh the pros and cons of a kindle.

I had thought that one of the reasons for a kindle was that I would be able to read Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire in hypertext. I'm happy reading most novels in plain old regular text, but Pale Fire is an exception.

Pale Fire has a very different structure from most novels. It's written in the form of a poem by a man named John Shade, with annotations by a man named Charles Kinbote. The narrative comes from Kinbote's irresistible urge to write about all manner of things other than the poem, including the murder of John Shade and the mythical land of Zembla, where Kinbote claims to have been king.

Of course, to see this narrative you have to flip back and forth between the poem and the annotation. I'm convinced the only reason Nabokov didn't write  it in hypertext is that hypertext was not yet invented in 1962 when Pale Fire was written.

So you would think that the Kindle edition would correct this defect. But according to this review on Amazon, it has not. (Another reviewer tried to make the case that this is as it should be, but I am not convinced.)

A hypertext version of Pale Fire was one of the weightiest reasons on the pro side for getting a kindle, and now it looks like I have to cross it off.




Fortunately, I don't need to despair of reading Pale Fire in hypertext. I just can't do it on a kindle. I've found at least two hypertext versions on the web:

Pale Fire
Shannon Chamberlain's Pale Fire Project


Both of these can be accessed from a plain old computer. Let's hear it for old school technology!
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