Books: That's All, Folks

EDWIN MULLHOUSE, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN AMERICAN WRITER, 1943-1954, BY JEFFREY CARTWRIGHT

by STEVEN MILLHAUSER

305 pages. Knopf. $6.95.

Pale Fire was Vladimir Nabokov's triumphant literary joke about the attempts of a mad pedant to write about the life and work of a poet whom he barely knew and whose qualities eluded him completely. The book seemed to be the very last laugh at the extremes of the New Criticism—destructive works of literary detection, prolix biographies, and any number of other sins against common sense and the simple enjoyment of art.

It...

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