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The Eye

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,366 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
Nabokov's fourth novel, The Eye is as much a farcical detective story as it is a profoundly refractive tale about the vicissitudes of identities and appearances. Nabokov's protagonist, Smurov, is a lovelorn, excruciatingly self-conscious Russian émigré living in prewar Berlin, who commits suicide after being humiliated by a jealous husband, only to suffer even greater indi ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published September 5th 1990 by Vintage (first published August 1st 1965)
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The Host by Stephenie Meyer1984 by George OrwellUglies by Scott WesterfeldNumbers by Rachel WardSpecials by Scott Westerfeld
Eye of the Beholder
78th out of 428 books — 262 voters
Lolita by Vladimir NabokovAda, or Ardor by Vladimir NabokovPale Fire by Vladimir NabokovPnin by Vladimir NabokovSpeak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Best of Vladimir Nabokov
6th out of 14 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 11, 2014 William1 rated it it was amazing
In the Berlin of 1925 a Russian emigré, one Smurov, accosted and humiliated by a jealous husband, goes home and shoots himself. What follows is the story of his bifurcated, pseudo-afterlife. As if he weren't mixed up enough, in his dissociative state he has the ill luck to fall in love. Breathtaking narrative patterning here, beautiful in a way simple crystalline forms are beautiful. A marvel that can be read in a single sitting. My second reading, I've upgraded it to 5 stars.
Apr 23, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
“a sinner’s torment in the afterworld consists precisely in that his tenacious mind cannot find peace until it manages to unravel the complex consequences of his reckless terrestrial actions.”
- Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye


A short, tight little Nabokov novella about a Russian émigré's suicide. The protagonist/protagonist's ghost attempts, after a(n) (un)successful suicide to determine the characteristics of Smurov.

The novella explores the concept of identity as being manufactured out of the many di
Adam Floridia
Jun 06, 2012 Adam Floridia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nabokov, 5-star-books
One of Nabokov's earlier works, The Eye is an amazing harbinger of what is to come. Completely obsessed (the character and the novella itself) with identity and, as such, the confines of one's own conscious self, The Eye foreshadows Sebastian Knight, Transparent Things, and The Original of Laura (plus, to a lesser extent, much more of his canon). (Oh, and it reminded me of Poe's "William Wilson," too.)

The book is an exemplar exploration of how perception shapes reality as it questions the natur
Nov 03, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it
(Some spoilers, but really it doesn't matter, as if you're reading Nabokov's books for their plots and nothing else, I have a feeling, based on this first excursion into his writings, that you may be reading him for the wrong reason and he will make you angry, causing you to call emperor's new clothes on him. I have very little sympathy for those who get pissy when you reveal important plot points from books or movies to them anyway, perhaps because of my own feelings on spoilers (to wit: I don' ...more
Anthony Vacca
May 10, 2015 Anthony Vacca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vladimir Sirin's fourth book shines as the author's first foray into narratorial deceit, a hallmark of the later English-language appropriating Nabokov. Don't worry, I won't be giving up the authorial game here (Naby's Forward practically takes care of that), but here is an evasive tease: a mopey, philandering émigré is beaten up by the brutish Berliner he cuckolded before fleeing to his apartment where a shot is fired, making our short-lived narrator ein toter. The rest of this breezy novella i ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
It is frightening when real life suddenly turns out to be a dream, but how much more frightening when that which one had thought a dream--fluid and irresponsible--suddenly starts to congeal into reality.

This was a short and wonderfully absurd tale of dreams and reality merging, of what it means to exist, and what, if anything, is actually real. Life for our narrator is a tangled mess, an illusion. What is identity? Are we who we think we are, who we used to be, or are we merely a product of how
MJ Nicholls
And again, forgoing the chance to spend a week souping through Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, I chose this 90-page quickie, written not by Nabokov but by Naboko, as the cover confirms, a dazzling novella (filed in my shelves under novels, I find sub-shelving a tedious business) involving a nameless narrator who shoots himself and hovers around the story waiting for the penny to drop.

Naboko's prose is at its rippling glorious peak in the suicide scenes: never has a writer scalped the human mi
My god. This was one hell of a short-incredible story. Loved it..
Mohammad Ali

کلیت نگاه به چیزی از پنجره ی دید دیگران و برملا شدن امکانات هر چیز از طریق رجوع به تفسیر بقیه از آن چیز - خصوصا وقتی آن چیز محل نظر یک انسان باشد - نکته ای است جالب. اما من به شخصه حال نکردم با جزئیات روایت ناباکوف - یعنی همان نگاه آینه وار و همان ناظر همه جا حاضر ( همان چشم ) خوب در داستان جانیافتاده بود
Jun 25, 2013 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia, fiction
One of V.'s earlier works, experimental, half-formed, but illusory and deceiving as ever. A 'wilderness of mirrors'. Reminds me of Borges.
Mar 31, 2016 Sima rated it liked it
شاید این اول کتابی است که از یک نویسندهی روس میخونم .در بعضی از صحنه ها احتیاج به توضیح بیشتری داشتم ،یک گنگی خاص حس میکردم که شاید دلیلش توی صفحات آخر پیدا میشه.در آخر کتاب همون حسی رو داشتم که موقع تموم شدن فیلم مکانیک داشتم. ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Соглядатай=The Eye , Vladimir Nabokov
عنوان: چشم؛ نویسنده: ولادیمیر ناباکوف؛ مترجم: محمدعلی مهمان نوازان؛ تهران، مروارید، 1388، در 106 ص؛ شابک: 9789641910404؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه قن 20 م
May 20, 2010 Behrang rated it really liked it
با این حال من باز هم خوشبختم . بله، خوشبخت ، قسم میخورم ، قسم میخورم که خوشبختم . من دریافته ام که تنها خوشبختی این دنیا نظاره کردن است . تحت مراقبت داشتن ، مشاهده و بررسی خود و دیگران . در اینکه هیچ چیز نباشی بجز چشمی درشت ، کمابیش شیشه مانند ، چشمی خون گرفته و خیره . چه اهمیتی دارد که من کمی حقیرم ، کمی چندش آور ، و اینکه هیچ کس قابلیت های فوق العاده ام را درک نمیکند – قدرت تخیلم ، فضل و کمالم ، قریحه ادبی ام...خوشحالم که میتوانم به خودم چشم بدوزم ، زیرا هر مردی جذابیت های خیره کننده ای دارد – ...more
Dec 12, 2011 C rated it really liked it
Plucked this from a library shelf after finding, to my frustration, that there was not a single Murakami title in stock. Regardless, after I started The Eye I was far from disappointed. This book is brilliant, clear evidence of the remarkable career that Nabakov was just beginning when this title was published. The book is obsessed with self-image, and its cycles of reflexivity reach points of remarkable beauty. The protagonist is obsessed with the character of Smurov, and tries to pull through ...more
Sep 18, 2011 Fahad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

يعرف فلاديمير نابوكوف الكاتب الأمريكي من أصل روسي بروايته (لوليتا)، التي ظهرت سنة 1955 م، وتناولت موضوعا ً محرما ً، لا تسهل الكتابة عنه، ألا وهو علاقة تقوم بين رجل ناضج وفتاة صغيرة عمرها 12 سنة، الرواية وصلت إلى الكثير من قوائم التفضيل المعروفة، وصارت من الروايات الكلاسيكية التي تمثل أدب القرن العشرين.

لم اقرأ لنابوكوف شيئا ً خلاف لوليتا، ولكني حصلت على نسخ الكترونية لبعض كتبه، ومنها هذه الرواية القصيرة جدا ً (العين) – بمعنى الجاسوس، لا بالمعنى العضوي -، وبما أني حصلت قبل شهر تقريبا ً على
Aug 11, 2011 ErynnMarie rated it liked it
Both times I've read Nabokov (this and Pale Fire), I've found myself about 3/4 of the way thru, utterly confused and equally weirded out, ready to swear off Nabokov forever. And then, at the last moment, the story twists around on itself and makes me laugh out loud. Both times, I realised I had been wrong about everything. And that if I could have, perhaps, paid closer attention to the plot and gotten less distracted by the sidelines and strange descriptiveness, I might have better understood wh ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Rafa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brillante, pero, en algún momento, se gusta liar.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Sep 18, 2010 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it
Like Despair, this novel hinges on a sleight of hand. In the case of Despair, the narrator failed to see things as clearly as we, the readers, could. In The Eye, the narrator carries out a substitution trick a short while into the book,something I only started to suspect towards the end. I'm not quite clever enough for Nabokov, but I hope to improve. Along the way, there's the expected but nonetheless delectable mix of verbal pyrotechnics and many a startling, searching insight into love, obsess ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: russia, short-fiction
Very early on in this short novel, the narrator, a Russian emigre named Smurov, appears to commit suicide by shooting himself in the heart. But that does not appear to be the end of him. He returns to his haunts as if attempting to investigate his life. The pity of it is, he turns out to be something of a sneak, based on how others view him.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote this quasi-detective piece around 1930, making it the fourth of his novels. Imagine the surprise of Playboy readers when it was serial
Jun 01, 2015 Amir rated it it was amazing
What are we but mere reflections in mirrors? Myriad personalities that others conjure, some will be forgotten, and some will live on forever.
In this short novel, Nabokov explores the notion of identity, or rather Smurov's identity, through the eyes of Russian emigres living in Berlin and other characters. His prose is at once brilliant and delightful. We are led through "The Eye/I" of the narrator through a series of events that explore topics such as identity and perception. The genius of Nabo
Ficou um pouco confuso da metade pro fim, mas a escrita maravilhosa do autor compensou :~
Beatrix Minkov
May 28, 2015 Beatrix Minkov rated it did not like it
Didn't like it, didn't care for the story, and it bored the hell out of me. Decided to dnf it at page 70. Life is just too short to spend time on books you don't like... ;)
Apr 11, 2016 Francesco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved, classics, fiction
Si arriva alla fine solo quando si dimentica
Ho comprato e scelto di leggere questo breve libro per la sua descrizione, il pensiero di un suicida che continua a vivere dopo la morte, creandosi una vita tutta sua, piena di personaggi creati proprio ad hoc, per il suo piacere.
E il cuore di questo racconto è scoprire la verità su uno dei personaggi che, assieme al pensiero del protagonista, è un ospite fisso del salotto di una famiglia di russi, anche questa tutta frutto del pensiero del suicida. Tu
Apr 05, 2012 Christina rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 28, 2012 Roozbeh rated it liked it
این کتاب شباهت هایی با "زندگی واقعی سباستین نایت" از نظر راوی و شیطنتی در پنهان ساختن شخصیت آن دارد. مقدمه نویسنده نشان می دهد او این ترس را داشته است که خواننده تا پایان کتاب را بخواند و بگوید "خب؟". به همین دلیل یک سوال را در مقدمه مطرح نموده تا خواننده در طول کتاب در جستجوی یافتن پاسخ باشد و پس از یافتن پاسخ بسیار ساده سوال ساده بصورت یک قهرمان کتاب را به پایان ببرد و نگران نباشد که از فرزند همسایه ناباکوف در یافتن پاسخ سوال ضعیف تر بوده است.

چشم، ناظر، نظارت روح انسان بر خودش از بالا، گویی رو
Stuart Estell
The Eye is much more the Nabokov I know and love.

The identity of the eye in question is revealed in the final two pages, and I must say that the Penguin edition does spoil Nabokov's game rather by giving away Smurov's identity from the outset.

(view spoiler)
Oct 04, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2011
Top 3 Reasons Why I Like This Book:

1) I read the majority of it during a single trip to the laundromat. There's something to be said for short gems of literature that can be enjoyed in the amount of time it takes wash the towels.

2) It's really it's hard for me not to like it.

3) It deals with the concept of identity and the idea of multiple perspectives of self, including the "ghost self" that lives on through other people's memories. This concept is explored through the metaphor o
BOOKS ARE A LOAD OF CRAP.................
Managed to track down an old 1966 edition of this book. It had sat on a shelf unread for many years which is a bit sad. so I blew off the dust and began to read. only to find my copy had been vandalised. Throughout the book, sentences had been underlined. And at the bottom of the pages. In a very fine hand, Extremely rude notes had been written . Explaining the hidden meaning of perfectly innocent looking sentences. Perhaps it was a Freudian trying to prove what a dirty dog the author was. But w ...more
"El ojo" es otra de las primeras Nabokov que saben a poco. Es una obrita sobre la identidad, como la mayoría de novelas de Nabokov. Realmente se nota que es de sus primeras obras: la ironía y el estilo aún no han llegado a sus cuotas máximas, y el truco de esconder la identidad del narrador es muy burdo, porque ya se viene a venir desde el principio, aunque el mismo Nabokov en el prólogo es lo suficientemente astuto como para descalificarlo él mismo. Sin embargo, tiene una reflexión interesante ...more
May 05, 2012 BeeQuiet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Reading The Eye has fuelled my desire to read everything by Nabokov that I can lay my hands on. Beautifully woven, with a cluster of characters living in their own, claustrophobic social world set the scene for the second act of this book. The Eye is a story about selfhood; about who we are, to ourselves and far more importantly, who we are in the eyes of others. Are we really just one person? Is not the personality of someone largely a mirror of what we contain in ourselves, as opposed to their ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add Swedish edition 3 16 Nov 13, 2015 01:53AM  
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Nabokov in Three ...: Initial Impressions 1 7 Dec 01, 2011 07:39AM  
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  • Envy
  • The Dream Life of Sukhanov
  • The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Noise of Time: Selected Prose
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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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“a man who has decided upon self-destruction is far removed from mundane affairs, and to sit down and write his will would be, at that moment, an act just as absurd as winding up one’s watch, since together with the man, the whole world is destroyed; the last letter is instantly reduced to dust and, with it, all the postmen; and like smoke, vanishes the estate bequeathed to a nonexistent progeny.” 14 likes
“And yet I am happy. Yes, happy. I swear. I swear that I am happy...What does it matter that I am a bit cheap, a bit foul, and that no one appreciates all the remarkable things about me—my fantasy, my erudition, my literary gift…I am happy that I can gaze at myself, for any man is absorbing—yes, really absorbing! ... I am happy—yes, happy!” 9 likes
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