My guest on today’s episode is Professor Stephen Blackwell, who teaches at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the US. His scholarship focuses on the work of the great Russian-born writer, Vladimir Nabokov, who spent much of his life in the United States and died in 1977 in Switzerland. Professor Blackwell was kind enough to indulge me in a discussion of a novel that Nabokov published in 1962, called Pale Fire. I have of course read only a tiny percentage of all the books written and a tiny percentage of all the literary fiction ever written, but for me this is the best work of the art of literary fiction I have ever read. I can’t even imagine anything being better. And please especially take a look at the show notes for this episode, where I include mention of some of the modern references to Nabokov that I forgot to ask about during our conversation.

Prof. Blackwell’s Profile

Pale Fire (1st ed.)

Pale Fire and Nabokov These Days: Modern References

  • The album Lolita Nation by Game Theory, led by the late Scott Miller (“the album is a masterpiece, by the way, and the artist is on Nabokov’s level”)
  • Other bands and artists with Nabokovian titles: Picnic, Lightning; White Widowed Male; Pale Fire
  • Molly Young, “The Essential Vladimir Nabokov,” New York Times, October 15, 2023
  • Pale Fire shows up in Blade Runner 2049