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Book Title: Despair|
The author of the book: Vladimir Nabokov
Date of issue: 1969
Loaded: 1936 times
Reader ratings: 5.4
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 316 KB
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Intensely good writing, with the unique Nabokovian feature of phrases we've never heard before somehow moving propulsively. Unfortunately, after a promising start, the plot turns flimsy, with the "twist" at the end telegraphed far too often to be anything other than a disappointment. This is an iceberg novel, but what's beneath the surface (the book jacket copy) is likely more interesting than the ramblings of our lead, Hermann, who (in the Zweigian conceit of the novel) has written and sent the prose to Nabokov for publication.
Nabokov has an interesting line in the introduction (coming some 30 years after he wrote DESPAIR in Russian): "Hermann and Humbert are alike only in the sense that two dragons painted by the same artist at different periods of his life resemble each other. Both are neurotic scoundrels, yet there is a green lane in Paradise where Humbert is permitted to wander at dusk once a year; but Hell shall never parole Hermann."
This seems odd - though both are unreliable narrators who commit a vile crime, the insidiousness of Humbert is far more extreme, and not just because LOLITA is a superior novel. Humbert's charm makes him disturbing, while Hermann is so unlikable that we can never be immersed in his mind. Though he is fully in control of the narrative, he is mainly a source of derision.
Now, there is much pleasure here in what the reader knows and the narrator doesn't - the relationship between Ardalion and Hermann's wife is a brilliant piece of writing, with lots of great humor coming out of Hermann's not knowing what is so obviously happening. This book also has the strangest supporting character I can remember, a man named Orlovious who is somehow instrumental to the plot, in a large percentage of the book's scenes, and never once explained or described. I enjoyed the many digs at Dostoyevsky too ("Dusty") - the whole thing can be read as a Dostoyevsky parody, now that I think about it. But despite the evident strengths, this is a minor book by a major writer -3.7 stars.
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Read information about the authorRussian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков .
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had an interest in chess problems.
Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.
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