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3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,106 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
For most of his life, Vladimir Nabokov was quite literally a man without a country. It's a small irony, then, that his career falls so neatly into national phases: Russian, German, French, and American, plus the protracted coda he spend in a Swiss luxury hotel during his final decade. The Gift, which he wrote between 1935 and 1937 in Berlin, is the grand summation of his s ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published 2014 by Азбука-Аттикус (first published 1938)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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At one point in this book, Nikolay Chernyshevsky smudges his old boots with ink to hide the scuff marks, and decides to freshen up his bootlaces at the same time by dipping them into the ink pot. Then he carelessly drops one of the laces on to a page of writing.

It’s difficult to imagine that scene in an age when we rarely see an ink bottle, never mind dip anything into one - any ink we see today is safely sealed in cartridges, and more often destined for electronic printers than for any kind of
Nov 03, 2015 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't think I know enough about Russian literature to properly get this book, but it did have some great moments. One in particular that I'm often reminded of whenever people on either side of the religion/skepticism debate start saying that things are "obvious". A character is in the middle of an atheist rant. "There's no God!" he exclaims. "It's as obvious as the fact that it's raining right now!" Then Nabokov's camera moves back, and you see that the person upstairs has in fact been waterin
Nov 14, 2009 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, volodya
The Gift finds among its peers works such as In Search of Lost Time and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, or Dedalus' scenes in Ulysses (does the root of every novel since inexorably stretch back to Ulysses? I see it everywhere). It even feels like a sequel to Speak, Memory, though Nabokov is careful to dissociate himself from Godunov-Cherdyntsev. Yet the book is woven with Pushkin and Gogol and lepidoptera, musings on chess and time, the deceptive and imitative qualities of the natural w ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“Have you ever happened, reader, to feel that subtle sorrow of parting with an unloved abode? The heart does not break, as it does in parting with dear objects. The humid gaze does not wander around holding back a tear, as if it wished to carry away in it a trembling reflection of the abandoned spot; but in the best corner of our hearts we feel pity for the things which we did not bring to life with our breath, which we hardly noticed and are now leaving forever. This already dead inventory will ...more
Jul 07, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who reads with their spine
Recommended to John by: maybe John Updike -- in print, that is
Nabokov looms as one of the navigational stars, glimmering against a novelist's horizon just when things seem darkest. THE GIFT makes my Goodreads list because it's the book I came to most recently, maybe 30 years after PALE FIRE & his other American novels rewired my makeup for good. This one is his European masterpiece, a transcendent reimagining of himself & his small family as they shuttled between apartments in central Europe, vagabond souls with a more-than-half-mad notion of keepi ...more
Jeff Jackson
May 18, 2010 Jeff Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabokov
Includes: Hunting expeditions in Tibet; fake executions; nude sunbathing; mysterious disappearances; Siberian exiles; three-way suicide pacts; left-wing censorship; recurring ghosts; Russian emigre life in Berlin; an affecting love story; the secrets of fictional composition; and much, much more. One of Nabokov's greatest masterpieces.
Sep 25, 2012 ΑνναΦ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Libro dalla struttura particolare, labirintica, dove ad ogni angolo c'è un mondo nuovo. Ora è la quieta triste vita di émigrée a Berlino, traboccante di echi biografici, ora saggio botanico naturalista e poi racconto di viaggio e poi ancora (siamo all'ostico IV capitolo) ecco un bel saggio storico letterario su un alquanto sconosciuto (ai più, io tra loro) scrittore e rivoluzionario russo della seconda metà dell'800, ironicamente fatto a pezzi dal Nabokov eccelso critico letterario, ma anche fig ...more
May 22, 2011 Olivia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is incredibly quotable, so this post is going to be pretty disastrous. I liked this book a lot, but of course it was difficult (it was, after all, Nabokov). I love his writing, though, and I love the way his brain works, and I love that in parts of this book he was anticipating so many other masterful things, like Lolita and other plots that appear randomly. I love that he loves his art so much, and that love comes through with the main character, and so many others. And I loved that t ...more
The last, longest, and greatest of Nabokov's Russian novels, a project that in some form occupied him for much of the 1930s, is frequently compared to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man but I think it's better, and more ambitious (a rival for Ulysses actually). Nabokov focuses not so much on Fyodor's childhood and youth (although they are powerfully present in the first chapter) as much as on his growth and expansion as a quickly maturing writer, and on his impassioned relation to Russian lit ...more
Светът на "Дар" е толкова сложен, необичаен, фантастичен, мисля си дори - фантасмагоричен, че това със сигурност е роман, който има нужда от повече от един прочит. Не мога да преценя какво пропуснах от съдържанието, но не улових всички нюанси, не разгадах пластовете докрай, не успях да последвам полета на авторовото въображение и не се оказах готова за пълнотата и пълнокръвието на тази книга. Страниците плавно преливат от една в друга и точно, когато ми се струваше, че следя повествованието, че ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 20, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘Give me your hand, dear reader, and let’s go into the forest together.’

This is the last book Vladimir Nabokov wrote in what he called his ‘untrammelled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue’. The story of Fyodor Konstantinovich Godunov-Cherdyntsev, a young Russian émigré aristocrat in Berlin, told in this novel is both a personal journey and a reflection of Russia’s past. Nabokov provides a brief synopsis in his foreword:

‘The plot of Chapter One centers in Fyodor’s poems. Chapter Two is a
Jan 21, 2016 Mikimbizii rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
"......but suddenly the unpleasant feeling of lateness was replaced in Fydor's soul by a distinct and somehow outrageously joyful decision not to appear at all for the lesson - to get off at the next stop and return home to his half-read book, to his unworldly cares, to the blissful mist in which his real life floated, to the complex, happy, devout work which had occupied him for about a year already. He knew that today he would receive the payment for several lessons, knew that otherwise he wou ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review after rereading the book:

This book is worthy to stand among its chief literary influences, to wit: Proust and Joyce. "Portrait of the Artist Remembering Things Past." Nabokov exploits the workings of memory to describe his childhood and the birth and development of the the protag's "gift." This gift is the mysterious element that drives one to become a writer, and very few to become writers of the highest caliber.

On first reading, I was so earnest on keeping the characters sorted that
Dec 04, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, audio
Tremendous. It requires attention and it lost me at times, as I was dodging puddles on the back streets, and Künstlerroman is not really my genre and I don't know nearly enough about Russian literature to fully appreciate what Nabokov is up to (and the best thing about that is that he clearly just doesn't care whether I get it or not) but wandering along and getting a bit lost in, especially, Chernyshevky's life and thinking about other things, I was more than once hauled up and made to pay atte ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Hamish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-lit, lit
The Gift is a bit different from other Nabokov novels. Its closest contemporary is the earlier Glory, and to a lesser extent his memoir Speak, Memory. Instead of the tricky, complex and maze-like plots that structure most of his works, this one is a slow burn. It takes its time and doesn't necessarily lead anywhere, but instead provides its pleasure in the beautiful density of the prose and the wonderful observations and sly jokes. Granted, those are aspects that make a large part of all of N's ...more
Scott Zaramba
Nov 15, 2012 Scott Zaramba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in the middle of last summer. I loved it. When I finished, I set about reading the rest of Nabokov's Russian work. None of it equals this book - not even Despair, which comes close, or Invitation to a Beheading, which I've liked since I read it as a teenager.

My enjoyment surprised me. Nabokov receives criticism for preciosity. This is the only book of his that I've read which feels precious all the way through. The sentences trace long paths down the page. The perspective shifts
May 11, 2012 Yupa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Copincollo un luuungo commento che avevo scritto tempo addietro per un siti di libri e letteratura...


“Il vero scrittore dovrebbe infischiarsene di tutti i lettori, salvo uno: il lettore futuro”: questo viene detto ne Il dono di Nabokov, a pagina 421, quando soltanto un’altra cinquantina ci separano dalla conclusione. Una frase che è quasi un piccolo premio proprio per il lettore futuro, cioè, contemporaneo (Il dono è stato scritto negli anni ’30 e in seguito pubbli
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I liked the first 100 pages or so, but then began to lose interest. I tried reading 10 pages or so at a time, interspersed with something else. Then I began putting off reading those 10 pages for longer and longer, until I finally realized - more than halfway through - that I simply didn't care about finishing.

This is semi-autobiographical, although Nabokov denies it. It is about a writer who has left Russia following the revolution and who settles in Berlin. He is involved in the ex-pat commun
Howard Olsen
Sep 07, 2007 Howard Olsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite Nabokov book. It's a melancholy story about exiled Russian nobles living in Berlin after the Revolution. The narrator is an exile who is also a novelist. Most of the book slips effortlessly between his childhood memories in Russia, his creative reveries, and his life in dreary Berlin. His thoghts eventually become so jumbles that it becomes impossible to tell what is real and what is memory. There is some remarkable writing here. One chapter begins with the narrator's vivid d ...more
Vittorio Ducoli
Aug 03, 2015 Vittorio Ducoli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il manifesto dell'identità intellettuale di Nabokov (e molto altro)

Il dono segna la fine della prima fase della produzione letteraria di Nabokov, e la storia della sua pubblicazione è abbastanza contorta. Fu infatti scritto in russo nell'ultimo periodo della permanenza dell'autore a Berlino, tra il 1935 e il 1937, ed apparve a puntate negli anni successivi, su una rivista dell'emigrazione russa a Parigi, in una edizione non integrale. Solo nel 1952 vide la luce integralmente a New York, essendos
Jul 09, 2011 Sps rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language, books-books
Though less than 400 pages this seemed like a long book, or several books. Possibly because it moves from a book about a book of poems, to a memoir of Fyodor's father, to a biography-of-sorts of Chernyshevskii, with literary criticism and imagined conversations and many lines of poetry throughout. I couldn't quite find the thread, the plait, the tide, though many wavelets were mordant, bilingually punning, or finely wrought.

VN even puts a foretaste of Lolita in the mouth of one of his most poshl
Adam Floridia
Feb 02, 2011 Adam Floridia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabokov
Just one sentence on only the 2nd page:

"With a practiced eye he searched it for something that would become a daily sore spot, a daily torture for his senses, but there seemed to be nothing of that sort in the offing, and the diffuse light of the gray spring day was not only above suspicion but even promised to mollify any trifle that in more brilliant weather would not fail to crop up; this could be anything: the color of a building, for instance, that immediately provoked an unpleasant taste
Feb 15, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most difficult and challenging books I have ever read. Yet, extremely rewarding once you get past the long sentences and paragraphs filled with imagery. I only had a few weeks to read this book for a Russian lit. course which made it hard to completely enjoy and take in the novel. I would definitely like to re-read it for a second time at a slower pace.

There are quite a few paragraphs in this book with imagery and word choice so beautiful you can't help but over look some of the strug
Dec 24, 2014 Gabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of this book is pretty esoteric, but there are extended passages (p. 162) that are just better than what anyone else writes. The concluding fate of Chernyshevski at the end of Chapter Four is some of the best writing I've ever read.
Anna Tatelman
Mar 12, 2015 Anna Tatelman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who is admittedly in love with Nabokov (or at least Lolita & Invitation to a Beheading), I really wanted to like this book. And maybe one day I will. But that day is not today. Today (and for the foreseeable future), this book just makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Repeatedly.
Будто крем-брюле объелся.
Вроде и изыскано, и приятно, и ещё хочется, а ком у горла стоит, и блевать тянет.
alessandra falca
Non conoscendo Puskin, non avendo lunga dimestichezza con la letteratura russa, se non per aver letto i romanzoni di Dostoevskji e Tolstoj, mi accingo a recensire solo una piccola parte dell'enorme libro di Nabokov. La microscopica parte che ho percepito. Nabokov scrive un gigantesco libro "circolare" sulla letteratura russa. Sulla creazione, sull'immaginazione. Leggere "Il dono" e perdurare nella sua lettura a volte è molto ostico.
Ma le immagini, i mondi, le farfalle raccontate ti ripagano spe
Aug 04, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Brilliant, layered - the best for me is the contrast between the idyllic remembered childhood (a sensual memory like no other), and the historical sort-of novel within the novel, about Chernyshevsky. Of course it's Nabokov's way of confronting the Soviet Russia that had mysteriously replaced the land of his memory. Maybe the pinnacle of Nabokov.
Dec 02, 2014 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov is the story of Fyodor, a Russian émigré living in Germany. A pretentious young man, he fancies himself a poet and moves within a literary circle populated with other pompous individuals like himself. Eventually he gives up on poetry and writes a boring biography about a Russian poet that he finds absolutely astounding. Then we are subjected to an incredibly long synopsis of said boring book. After that finally ends there’s a little more about Fyodor and then the boo ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A meandering tale of an immigrant Russian writer living in Germany. The realtively banal plot achieves salvation through a typically expansive and transcendent Nabokovian tutorial on the essence of writing. This doesn't measure up to Lolita, but the character and quality of description is every bit as present in this as his tour de force.
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Nabokov in Three ...: Impressions 1 12 May 12, 2012 08:16AM  
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
  • Petersburg
  • The Noise of Time: Selected Prose
  • The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness
  • The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov
  • Less Than One: Selected Essays
  • Diary of a Superfluous Man
  • The Foundation Pit
  • Black Snow
  • Envy
  • Vera (Mrs.Vladimir Nabokov)
  • Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
  • Red Cavalry
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
  • Novel with Cocaine
  • Memories of the Future
  • The Village of Stepanchikovo
  • Maidenhair
Russian: 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 cit
More about Vladimir Nabokov...

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“Have you ever happened, reader, to feel that subtle sorrow of parting with an unloved abode? The heart does not break, as it does in parting with dear objects. The humid gaze does not wander around holding back a tear, as if it wished to carry away in it a trembling reflection of the abandoned spot; but in the best corner of our hearts we feel pity for the things which we did not bring to life with our breath, which we hardly noticed and are now leaving forever. This already dead iventory will not be resurrected in one's memory..” 16 likes
“Thus it transpired that even Berlin could be mysterious. Within the linden's bloom the streetlight winks. A dark and honeyed hush envelops us. Across the curb one's passing shadow slinks: across a stump a sable ripples thus. The night sky melts to peach beyond that gate. There water gleams, there Venice vaguely shows. Look at that street--it runs to China straight, and yonder star above the Volga glows! Oh, swear to me to put in dreams your trust, and to believe in fantasy alone, and never let your soul in prison rust, nor stretch your arm and say: a wall of stone.” 8 likes
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