Starting with the table of contents, Pale Fire looks like the publication of a 999-line poem in four cantos by the fictional John Shade with a Foreword, extensive Commentary, and Index by his self-appointed editor, Charles Kinbote. Kinbote's Commentary takes the form of notes to various numbered lines of the poem. Here and in the rest of his critical apparatus, Kinbote explicates the poem surprisingly little. Focusing instead on his own concerns, he divulges what proves to be the plot piece by piece, some of which can be connected by following the many cross-references. Espen Aarseth noted that Pale Fire "can be read either unicursally, straight through, or multicursally, jumping between the comments and the poem." Thus although the narration is non-linear and multidimensional, the reader can still choose to read the novel in a linear manner without risking misinterpretation.