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Laughter in the Dark (1932)

de Vladimir Nabokov

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1,751338,237 (3.87)31
Albinus, a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, abandons his wife for a lover half his age: Margot, who wants to become a movie star herself. When Albinus introduces her to Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. What emerges is an elegantly sardonic and irresistibly ironic novel of desire, deceit, and deception, a curious romance set in the film world of Berlin in the 1930s.… (més)
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Laughter in the Dark
By Vladimir Nabokov

#bookreview #classic #bookstagram

http://sravikabodapati.blogspot.com/2022/09/laughter-in-dark-by-vladimir-nabokov... ( )
  nagasravika.bodapati | Sep 14, 2022 |
"Biiiiitch! Amen." (Me when I finished this novel after reading it in one sitting) ( )
  rosscharles | May 19, 2021 |
"I must keep quiet for a little space and then walk very slowly along that bright sand of pain, towards that blue, blue wave. What bliss there is in blueness. I never knew how blue blueness could be. What a mess life has been. Now I know everything. Coming, coming, coming to drown me. There it is. How it hurts. I can't breathe..."

Starts off by summarizing the whole narrative of the novel without entirely jeopardizing the impact of the detailed narrative, Laughter in the Dark is such a splendid tragicomedy. Dry humor keeps the otherwise overtly familiar plot interesting and engaging. With most of its characters tied to the magic of films and film-making, its entirety could be treated as such: an almost hilarious, horrific, and hypnotic take on a film genre that hasn't got, possibly, a term for itself. It's a mixture of horror, film noir, thriller, drama, comedy, romance, slasher, and mockumentary while diligently preserving realism at best amidst the idealism of its characters. It is another of Nabokov's tale of a middle aged man, Albinus, pining, wooing, and worshipping a 17-year old girl of filth (though both of them are filth), naïvety and deceit but this time, depending on how you look into it, the girl gains the upper hand. Albinus' decent down the misery and misfortune well was unapologetically satisfying. Laughter in the Dark made me, pardon me for this, laugh in the dark as I turn the final pages realizing I've devoured it all in one day. It is, indeed, quite a cinematic experience on its own.

Some stunning excerpts from the master word-weaver, Nabokov:
** "No, you can't take a pistol and plug a girl you don't even know, simply because she attracts you."
** "One can't build up one's life on the quicksands of misfortune."
** "In my opinion, an artist must let himself be guided solely by his sense of beauty: that will never deceive him."
** "Death seems to be merely a bad habit, which nature is at present powerless to overcome."
** "Solitude has developed in him a spinsterish touchiness, and now he was deriving a morbid pleasure from feeling hurt."
** "Death is often the point of life's joke." ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
You know there is going to be a train wreck, you don't like any of the characters, but you don't look away. ( )
  ltbxf4 | Jul 5, 2020 |
33. Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov
translation from Russian by Nabokov in 1965
-- English translation history: first translated as Camera Obscura by Winifred Roy in 1936, then as Laughter in the Dark by Nabokov in 1938. And then updated by Nabokov in 1965.
published: serialized in Sovremennye zapiski in 1932, published as Kamera Obskura (Камера Обскура) in 1933
format: 286-page paperback
acquired: February
read: Jun 8-17
time reading: 5 hr 11 min, 1.2 min/page
rating: 4
locations: Berlin, Germany, France and Switzerland
about the author 1899 – 1977. Russia born, educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, 1922, lived in Berlin (1922-1937), Paris, the US (1941-1961) and Montreux, Switzerland (1961-1977)

"Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster."

Nabokov was known to call all fiction essentially fairy tales, but his takes it to the extreme with this playful opening paragraph. I was wondering how he could follow up on it, and I kept wondering for another 100 pages as creates a somewhat stereotypical 17-yr-old semi-prostitute and a somewhat stereotypical the middle-aged married clueless and generally harmless Albinus who falls in love with her. But then the book begins to hit its stride, and once it does, it begins to do a lot of different things, becoming a terrific read that I flew through. It's notably a visual book, with an art critic, cinematic ties, and constant descriptions of the atmosphere, light, and characters. And there is, in contrast, layered themes on blindness. First the blindness in the darkness in the cinema, then the blindness and selfishness of love, and then actual blindness. When a character loses their sight, the book for me took on a mythological feel - everything becomes simplified, surrounded by unknowns, because everything we "saw" is missing. If you're thinking of Plato's cave, you're on the right track.

It was after I read this that I came across an article on the Tolstoy references. Albinus is a 1930 male counterpart to Anna Karenina, and the books visuals play off Tolstoy's, and its themes off Tolstoy's in playful ways. It is, in a sense, an ode to Tolstoy, a wonderful one.

This becomes my favorite Nabokov. Recommended to anyone interested.

2020
https://www.librarything.com/topic/318836#7194651 ( )
1 vota dchaikin | Jun 20, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Vladimir Nabokovautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Banville, JohnIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bergsma, Peterautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nabokov, VladimirTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus.
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Albinus, a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, abandons his wife for a lover half his age: Margot, who wants to become a movie star herself. When Albinus introduces her to Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. What emerges is an elegantly sardonic and irresistibly ironic novel of desire, deceit, and deception, a curious romance set in the film world of Berlin in the 1930s.

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