Pale Fire was one of my favorite novels long before I realized that it was also a kind of little puzzle. As a lazy student taking a seminar course in which it was assigned, I, like most lazy students, read from cover to cover without bothering to flip through the index, follow the leads, or even, as Charles Kinbote suggests, "cut out and clip the pages with the text of the thing, or even more simply, purchase two copies of the same work which can then be placed in adjacent positions on a comfortable little table." As a temporary housewife, I had the leisure time to pursue such odd tasks, and was immensely rewarded when I did, despite destroying several copies of the book in the process. I like trees, and decided that all in all, hypertexting the world's first hypertext novel might not be such a bad idea.
Which edition of the book did you use?
Vintage, 1989. I corrected a couple of obvious typos in the process. There are, however, no inserted variants.
Doesn't this violate copyright or something?
It was created solely for my own amusement, and for the edification of my University of California-San Diego LTRU 123: Single Author in Russian Literature classmates, many of whom, I suspect, are as lazy as me. It also really helped me write a paper.
Why shouldn't I just read the thing from cover to cover?
In this case, there's more than one way to read. Reading from cover to cover is a perfectly legitimate way to get the same information, but it will take longer. It does, however, have the advantage of not playing directly into Nabokov's hands. And since I'm arguing in a paper on the novel that Nabokov is trying to manage his critics before the fact, I'm certainly not going to be the one to stop you from being managed.
Ya ne govoriu po-angliski.
Fortunately, there's a Russian version available.
Why didn't you highlight the parts of the poem that appear (however tangentially) in the commentary, like in the Russian version?
I've made a conscious decision to play Nabokov's game and follow Kinbote's instructions to the letter. Remember how "the reader is advised to consult them first and then study the poem with their help, rereading them of course as he goes through its text, and perhaps, after having done with the poem, consulting them a third time so as to complete the picture"? If you're going to read the book Kinbote's way, you should do what Kinbote says. This means using the hyperlinks from the commentary to the poem, not the other way around. Or maybe I'm just too lazy.