Pale Fire Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Which Pope is mentioned in the commentary to Line 85?

2. What is the name of John Shade's aunt?

3. What happened to Shade's parents when he was a boy?

4. "Forty ounces of fine sand" describes what in Canto One?

5. What typically goes on at the I.P.H.?

Short Essay Questions

1. What clues do you see that Charles Kinbote may not be what he seems?

2. Briefly describe King Alfin the Vague.

3. How does Kinbote describe the Russian guards who are after the Zemblan Crown Jewels?

4. Give a brief account of the events involving Disa and King Charles after the revolution.

5. What do we learn about King Charles X in Canto Two?

6. How is Kinbote's birthday gift for Shade representative of Kinbote's commentary of the poem?

7. What does John Shade ponder in the beginning of Canto Two?

8. How does Gradus learn the location of the king?

9. Cite an early clue that Charles Kinbote is an unreliable narrator.

10. How is Kinbote critical of Professor Hurley?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

How does Nabokov use references of other literary works in his novel Pale Fire? Give as many examples of references to other works as you can from the text, and describe what Nabokov accomplishes by including them in the novel.

Essay Topic 2

On page 156, in the commentary to Line 172, John Shade bemoans the way most of his students read and interpret literature.

Relate Shade's thoughts in the final paragraph on page 156 to the way Kinbote interprets the poem "Pale Fire."

How does Kinbote respond to Shade's commentary?

What does this tell us about Kinbote?

Essay Topic 3

Using specific examples from the novel, compile the verses of poetry that were omitted from the poem "Pale Fire."

Why do you think Nabokov chooses to include these verses in the novel, but not the poem?

(see the answer keys)

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