Just started reading this. The narrator/commentator is supposed to be an asshole right? Or if not an asshole, he's seriously delusional. Every line in the poem is strung back to him and his home country and stories he told the poet
>Every line in the poem is strung back to him and his home country and stories he told the poet
Yeah. It's supposed to be funny because he's interpreting an obviously autobiographical poem into something about his own ridiculous life. Keep reading, it'll make more sense when you're done.
The entire thing is framed as a novel-length, line-by-line analysis of a poem. When the narrator goes off on long rambling tangents about an imaginary country that has nothing to do with the poem, that gives you insight into his character while failing to actually analyze the poem.
It works on a meta-level because it's horrible and hamfisted in the context of being analysis of the poem.
The novel is a failure because there is too little distance between Kinbote's Zemblan nonsense, and Nabokov's own sheltered and privileged life and pursuits (butterflies, chess, literature, etc.)