Generations of readers have studied the hermeneutic riddles of Pale Fire, questioning both their meaning and their susceptibility to interpretation. This critical dialogue is part of a broader debate regarding Nabokov's narrative persona: whether it unforgivingly mocks exegetical pretension and dismisses the very notion of intersubjectivity, or whether a more generous authorial vision is discernable. This article proposes a shift in the terms of that debate. It argues that the very opacity of the novel has the effect of gathering up, into a makeshift community of the perplexed, both characters and readers, allowing them to experience, if not genuine communion or enlightenment, then at least a sense of fellow-feeling among the benighted.

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