Pale Fire: Top Ten Quotes
- "Let me state that without my notes Shade's text simply has no human reality at all since the human reality of such a poem as his (being too skittish and reticent for an autobiographical work), with the omission of many pithy lines carelessly rejected by him, has to depend entirely on the reality of its author and his surroundings, attachments and so forth, a reality that only my notes can provide."
Kinbote ends the Foreword by asserting his importance.
- "My name was mentioned twice, as usual just behind (one oozy footstep) Frost."
Shade describing how he was mentioned on a television program about poetry.
- ".a morocco-bound album in which the Judge had lovingly pasted the life histories and pictures of people he had sent to prison or condemned to death: unforgettable faced of imbecile hoodlums. the close-set merciless eyes of a homicidal maniac (somewhat resembling, I admit, the late Jacques d'Argus)."
note to lines 47-48
Kinbote admits that the homicidal maniac does represent Gradus (Jacques d'Argus is one of his aliases).
- ".'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."
note to line 130
Kinbote commenting upon a painter.
- "I have staggered the notes referring to him in such a fashion that the first. is the vaguest while those that follow become gradually clearer as gradual Gradus approaches in space and time."
note to line 171
Kinbote explains his method.
- "happily, Prof. Botkin, who taught in another department, was not subordinated to that grotesque 'perfectionist'"
note to line 172
Kinbote comments on the head of the Russian Department.
- "But then it is also true that Hazel Shade resembled me in certain respects."
note to lines 347-48
Kinbote comments upon Hazel.
- "One should not apply it to a person who deliberately peels off a drab and unhappy past and replaces it with a brilliant invention. That's merely turning a new leaf with the left hand."
note to line 629
Shade (reported by Kinbote) on the word "loony."
- "My commentary to this poem, now in the hands of my readers, represents an attempt to sort out those echoes and wavelets of fire, and pale phosphorescent hints, and all the many subliminal debts to me."
note to line 1000
Kinbote on his attempt to find his story in the notes.
- "Thus with cautious steps, among deceived enemies, I circulated, plated with poetry, armored with rhymes, stout with another man's song, stiff with cardboard, bullet-proof at long last."
note to line 1000
Kinbote on wearing Shade's poem.