Next week, in the final entry, I want to talk about Brian Boyd's book, Nabokov's Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery, which I have just finished. But this week, I want to mention another book, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, by Andrea Pitzer, an interesting book which I read in January.
I am not sure why Nabokov's history would be "secret," but Pitzer's point is that Nabokov's biography is largely reflected in his fiction.
There are many references to mirrors and reflections in Pale Fire, which is a case in point, and in fact there is a chapter on Pale Fire in Pitzer's book.
The killing of John Shade at the end of Pale Fire may be read in at least two ways: (1) Gradus, the assassin from Zembla, attempts to kill King Charles or (2) Jack Grey, the American escapee from the insane asylum, is attempting to kill Judge Goldsworth, who had him put away, and mistakenly kills Shade, who resembles the judge.
In any case, a man his shot dead in the course of an attempted killing of another person, and Pitzer's book describes in detail the fatal shooting of Nabokov's father, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, He was shot to death in 1922 in Berlin by assassins who were attempting to kill someone else (who they failed to even wound.)
Pitzer's book has other instances of how Nabokov's life is reflected in his fiction. For example, Nabokov's wife was Jewish, and anti-Semitism and prejudice in general is a theme that recurs in Nabokov.