This essay will consider these two novels within the paradigm of Kristerva's concept of intertextuality: that is that a text has two axes, one horizontal (connecting the author with the reader) and the other vertical, connecting the text with other texts.
The first section of this analysis will consider the vertical axis of Kristerva's intertextual graph: the complex inter-relationships between these two texts completed more than forty years apart. One way that the two texts relate to one another is in the sheer complexity of their form. Both Joyce and Nabokov have been (and still are) accused of being cerebral, at times near impossible writers to understand. This accusation is laid against them for a number of reasons: first of all, the amount of knowledge that they assume within a reader, second, the at times convoluted internal structure of their works, and third, the lack of an obvious narrative line. While both Joyce (in early works such as Dubliners) and Nabokov (in his most famous work Lolita) at times did produce obviously narrative-driven writing:- with a clear beginning, middle and end, they tended to develop (some would say degenerate) - into a more complex structure as their literary lives developed.
One way in which Ulysses may be seen to foreshadow Nabokov's later work, or in which Nabokov used Joyce's earlier technique, is in the lack of a clear narrative viewpoint within the two works. Thus Ulysses is famously told, in the main, from the point of view of at least two different characters, Stephen Dedalus and Mr. Bloom. Different styles of writing are also used, including the use of straight prose, stream of consciousness, and at one point something appears to be a play script. Consider that the following all come from the same novel:
Buck Mulligan came from a stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on
which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
I was indecently treated, I . . . inform the police. Hundred pounds.
Unmentionable. I . . .
Would if you could, lame duck. A downpour we want, not your drizzle.
To drive me mad! Moll! I forgot! Moll! . . . We . . . Still . . .
. . . I remember shall I wear a white rose and I wanted to put on the old
stupid clock to near the time he was the first man kissed me under the
Moorish wall my sweetheart when a boy it never entered me mind . . .
Unlike most authors, who seek to produce some kind of a whole within their work, and even if they are using different techniques, attempt a seamless transition between the different techniques/styles, Joyce appears to want to make the flow of Ulysses as disjointed as possible. Before illustrating how similar many parts of Pale Fire are to this, it serves well to notice that BLOOM, with his staccato, unfinished sentences that are nevertheless full of meaning, is also resonant of another famous character: Mr. Jingle from The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens. Here is the complexity of an intertextual examination: all writers (or virtually all) have read numerous other authors, and it is seldom a matter of a straight comparison between two