Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Class began with the recommendation from Mr. Sexson of a new novel entitled Generosity by Richard Powers. This title is probably the attribute that the poet of Pale Fire, John Shade, has in greatest abundance. And that which the commentator/critic/stalker Charles Kinbote(and do we pronounce the e or not?)has the least amount of.

The general consensus, at least at the beginning, is that Pale Fire is a daunting text. But, is it really? The main thing that it probably ends up really being about is this question: what do you(the reader) bring to the text? If you're Kinbote, whatever you damn-well please. Or, rather, you bring to it the story of revolution and attempted regicide and daring escape in Zembla, a distant Northern land for those who do not know. The poem may in fact be a eulogy for the death of the poet's daughter Hazel; but if you're the commentator than you have the last word!

And of course, Kinbote is what could be called an unreliable narrator, which we have had from at least when Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw.

Apparently absolutely everybody is a thief(everything you think, say, do and so on you got from somebody else). And this is exactly what Pale Fire is concerned with. Its no accident that the line from Timon of Athens that gives it the title goes : "The moon is an arrant thief, and its pale fire it stealth from the sun." I intend to double check and make sure that quote is correct.

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