Nabokov! Message Board


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Nabokov! Message Board

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jul. 27, 2006, 1:43am

I've not read enough Nabokovand I keep meaning to read more. My favorite is The real life of Sebastian Knight, which is as meta as meta can be.

And I have none in my collection, because my parents own some of them. Time to do some buying.

jul. 27, 2006, 1:53am

My favorite is Pnin, followed closely by Lolita. (On the former, which seems very simple, see Barabtarlo Phantom of Fact.) Then Pale Fire, Ada, Speak Memory, Despair. Brian Boyd's Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years is without question my favorite biography—not of Nabokov, since I've only read one—but of anyone...

jul. 27, 2006, 2:12am

I've read Lolita, and I think I started Ada. And I read part of a biography that my mother has - one that came out about 10-15 years ago to great acclaim I think.

4mattkaul Primer missatge
jul. 27, 2006, 9:34am

I'd have to say that Pale Fire is the greatest of his works that I've read so far, which include Lolita and his Lectures on Russian Literature. I'm greatly looking forward to reading more; he's a brilliant author.

jul. 27, 2006, 12:29pm

Tim, pleased to hear you say that Pnin is your favorite; I'm new to Nabokov, and adored Lolita (one of me all time favorite books) and Pale Fire. Seems I have more greatness waiting for me...

6arkandco Primer missatge
jul. 31, 2006, 9:55pm

I agree with Tim. Pnin is my favorite, though the work I most often recommend to first-time readers is his memoir Speak, Memory -- accessible, beautifully written and each chapter is a self-contained gem. But back to Pnin. One of my favorite passages is our introduction to his "son", Victor (forgive me the long quote): "At two, Victor did not make little spiral scribbles to express buttons or portholes, as a million tots do, why not you? Lovingly he made his circles perfectly round and perfectly closed. A three-year-old child, when asked to copy a square, shapes one recognizable corner and then is content to render the rest of the outline as wavy or circular; but Victor at three not only copied the researcher's (Dr. Liza Wind's) far from ideal square with contemptuous accuracy but added a smaller one beside the copy. He never went through that initial stage of graphic activity when infants draw Kopffüsslers (tadpole people), or humpty dumpties with L-like legs, and arms ending in rake prongs; in fact, he avoided the human form altogether and when pressed by Papa (Dr. Eric Wind) to draw Mama (Dr. Liza Wind), responded with a lovely undulation, which he said was her shadow on the new refrigerator. At four, he evolved an individual stipple. At five, he began to draw objects in perspective -- a side wall nicely foreshortened, a tree dwarfed by distance, one object half masking another. And at six, Victor already distinguished what so many adults never learn to see -- the colors of shadows, the difference in tint between the shadow of an orange and that of a plum or of an avocado pear." Enjoy!

ag. 15, 2006, 9:09am

Yea just finished King, Queen, Knave. It's his second novel and considerably different than his first, Mary. Nabokov lets quite the devious narrarators tell his stories, which I think Pale Fire is one of the more prime examples - but King Queen Knave also mixes in some narrative oddities, or "traps" Nabokov likes to call them, with what is a pretty basic love triangle of a tale. I never realized how fond Mr. Vivian Badlook was of anagrams...... Anyone else enjoy this one?

8Karlus Primer missatge
set. 12, 2006, 7:38am

Hi, came to LT more or less recently, but have been reading Nabokov for a while. Started with Lolita and haven't stopped yet. Don't intend to either. Currently reading King, Queen, Knave and enjoying it immensely. What an expansion of self-confidence it seems to show over his first novel, Mary!

set. 14, 2006, 12:31pm

Oh Boy! I found Nabokovonia on the site!
I began with Lolita a few years ago, and continued on with The Enchanter...not the one listed on the side in the touchstone though! The one by Nabokov! I've read more, including Pnin and just finished Mary (the one by Nabokov), and just finished King, Queen, Knave. I want to try to read the rest in order, as it is always interesting to see an author's evolution of style, and I can already see the progress.

set. 14, 2006, 12:36pm

And btw, I agree with arkandco in that Speak, Memory is ideal to begin reading Nabokov. And the Brian Boyd bios are excellent.

set. 15, 2006, 8:45pm

That quote wasn't too long for me. I just love his long descriptions! When I sense that he is settling in to write a long description, I just settle back into my chair and enjoy it word for word. It is just amazing the scenes and ideas he can write with his pen! I find my self trying to sort out which elements are straight observations from his own experience, which from his imagination, and then those parts for which there are almost no words except straight inspiration and genius.

12Fnarf Primer missatge
des. 18, 2006, 12:56pm

Hello. I'm new to Librarything and this group, but I've been reading and collecting Nabokov for decades. My favorite of his Russian novels is The Gift, of his American ones is either Pale Fire or Lolita. I adore Pnin as well. But Speak, Memory is probably my favorite of his books. My favorite of the editions I own is The Real Life of Sebastian Knight in the original red burlap-covered boards with the pasted-on label. I love books as physical objects.

feb. 6, 2007, 4:51am

It sounds like we see things the same way!
Glad of it, and sorry to take so long getting back here. I had given up hope.
One day I'll reread The Gift and get much more out of it.

feb. 10, 2007, 8:34am

And BTW, if someone wanders past this lonely wind-swept Nabokovian outpost, sometime, who has a thought or two on separating fact/history from fiction in The Gift, any hints would be greatly appreciated. :)

març 23, 2007, 10:57pm

I may be forgiven for quoting an observation made by Richard Leigh, a writer,friend based in London:

"In his preface, Nabokov predictably denies any autobiographical element, insisting that it's not in Fyodor, but in two peripheral literary characters whom Fyodor admires 'that I distinguish odds and ends of myself as I was circa 1925'. So far as superficial facts are concerned, this is true. The simple data of Fyodor's biography differ in a number of crucial details from those of Nabokov's. In sensibility, however, in personality, in temperament, in attitudes and values, in aesthetics, in a number of other such respects, Fyodor is as much a self-portrait as, say, Van Veen in "Ada" -- one of the best and most revealing Nabokov ever penned"

Editat: març 26, 2007, 4:06pm

Hi all. I love Nabokov and currently reading one of his stories but i can't find the title in english...
in my language the title is "The Dark Room" and it's a story very similar to Lolita, an art dealer falls for a 16 yrs old who meets at the cinema...
If someone could tell me the title in english!

març 27, 2007, 3:18am

Jina, that is the beginning to "Laughter in the Dark."

març 27, 2007, 6:49am

Karlus, it's not "Laughter In The Dark" - it is quite similar, but it's not. definitely.

the hero's name is Kretsmar (excuse my mistake but i 'm not sure how it is spelled)) and the girl's name is Magda.
if anyone knows the title in english i'd be so grateful...!

març 27, 2007, 8:15am

i found it. it's "Bird of Paradise" and it is unpublished... or probably a story from The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

someone could check it out because i don't have "the stories.."

març 27, 2007, 10:13pm

Live and learn!
Thanks for the info.

març 28, 2007, 8:49am

yes, karlus. :))

and here's the link :

març 28, 2007, 9:06am

So, in your original post it was actually Bird of Paradise that you were reading? And not Kamera Obscura?

març 28, 2007, 9:34am

oh, no i was so confused. it was Kamera obskura, after all... :-/

Axel Rex, was Robert Horn... it was obvious.

i got confused because i thought Kamera obskura was another title for Laughter in the dark, but finally i get it. the book is slightly different.

so no, Bird of Paradise is unpublished. i couldn't have read it.

(and of course, it also has nothing to do with "The Stories of V.Nabokov" - sorry for the confusion)

març 28, 2007, 4:34pm

Thanks for your reply. I too became baffled, but was really glad to see the relation between the three explained in the link you provided. Very interesting.

març 29, 2007, 3:15pm

thanks, karlus ;-)

checking your catalog, lots of books you got there, we also share master and margarita.what a book!! with "Laughter in the Dark" those too are my top books. :))

març 29, 2007, 6:37pm

Yes, sort of. Lots of books I got there, unread! But I have read the Nabokov's, and half of Master and Margarita, each of the three times I have started it. A fantastic half-book that I may someday finish. LOL

març 29, 2007, 6:53pm

jina, let me add my thanks for the new link for Nabokov! I was unaware of the unpublished precursor to Laughter in the Dark. What a treat it would be to be able to read it!

març 30, 2007, 7:35am

Cateline, yes indeed! And reading Camera Obscura was very interesting, too, because it has very light differences, and you get some more info about the characters, about situations and of course about Nabokov's writing process.

and Karlus, Master and Margarita is one of the best stories i've read. it's one of these books that have many many fans, there's a movie based on it, theatrical plays and quite recently it was adapted into Tv Series for the russian tv.
(something i 'd love to see.)
i think i could start a thread just about it, if there's not one yet, LOL!

abr. 22, 2008, 2:33pm

Happy Birthday, Mr. N.

abr. 22, 2008, 2:46pm

Tomorrow, yes? Prime and enigmatic.

Any other date would just be too pedestrian.

Editat: abr. 22, 2008, 3:40pm

krolik (and enevada), Thanks for letting us know.