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The Eye

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,946 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Nabokov's fourth novel is as much a farcical detective story as it is a profoundly refractive tale about the vicissitudes of identities and appearances.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published September 5th 1990 by Vintage Books (first published 1930)
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Eye of the Beholder
78th out of 422 books — 254 voters
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6th out of 14 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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William1
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.
Adam Floridia
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
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Ali
(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
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
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
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Emir Never
My copy of The Eye carries a foreword written by the author himself, penned in Montreaux on April 19, 1965, just four days before Nabokov's 66th birthday, wherein he put some "tips" about the characters "to make things a little easier for the kind of reader who (like myself) is wary of novels that deal with spectral characters in unfamiliar surroundings" and other insights. My blunder is to have read first this foreword, which I find unnecessary because the story (and execution) stands on its ow ...more
Karéz
My god. This was one hell of a short-incredible story. Loved it..
Hadrian
One of V.'s earlier works, experimental, half-formed, but illusory and deceiving as ever. A 'wilderness of mirrors'. Reminds me of Borges.
Darwin8u
“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.”

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 differing mirrors of how we a
...more
Casey
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
Behrang
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
ErynnMarie
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
Rafa
Brillante, pero, en algún momento, se gusta liar.
Beatrix Minkov
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... ;)
Christina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roozbeh
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
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Adrian Anghel
Acțiunea se pornește, concret, în realism, cu loc și timp (Berlin, 1924-1925), ca mai apoi, după moartea artistului, a naratorului, ea să se continue în imaginația acestuia, fără să-l mai afecteze fizic în vreun fel. Este lumea de după artist, creația care rămânen în continuare, dar modelată post-mortem tot de el. Rămânem la ideea de echilibru, echilibru și analiză.

mai mult: http://adispune.ro/vladimir-nabokov-s...
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)
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Erin
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 Nabokov...so 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
...more
Núria
"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
BeeQuiet
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
Zena
What I love about Nabokov is his ability to add so much detail into such short stories. This book was no exception. A great read!
Ensiform
translated by Dmitri Nabokov

This very short novel tells the story of Smurov, a man in unrequited love and obsessed with knowing what others think of him. The narrator is a man who thinks he has killed himself, and that the world is a dream; he writes of the characters with detachment but is actually Smurov, a fact unstated til the end but obvious from the first mention of Smurov. This is a brilliant little tale, showing precisely and cruelly how an aloof detachment from involvement in life leads
...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
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
محمود أغيورلي
مقتطفات من رواية العين للكاتب فلاديمير نابكوف

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فلكى تعيش سعيدًا؛ يجب أن يخبر الإنسان من حين لآخر لحظات قليلة من غياب المعنى والمتعة
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كنت أتخيل شخصًا ما يصاب بالجنون لأنه بدأ يدرك بوضوح حركة الكرة الأرضية. فها هو يترنح محاو ً لا الحفاظ على توازنه، يتشبث بقطع الأثاث حتى يستقر على مقعد جوار النافذة وعلى شفتيه ابتسامة من يشعر بالإثارة
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ياله من شىء عظيم تفكير الإنسان، الذى يستطيع أن يتداعى بسرعة بعد الموت. وحدها السموات تعرف طول الفترة التى سينبض فيها ويخلق
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David Cranmer
“The theme of The Eye is the pursuit of an investigation which leads the protagonist through a hell of mirrors and ends in the merging of twin images.” That plot description is from Vladimir Nabokov’s own foreword to the 1965 English publication of The Eye. The protagonist Mr. Nabokov spoke of is a Russian émigré (a common theme in his body of work) living in Berlin and working as a tutor for two young boys in whose home he lodges. An attractive friend of the family, Matilda, visits, and he star ...more
Jim
Having just read Briefing for a Descent into Hell I find it interesting that I’ve picked up another book about identity. It’s very different—it’s considerably shorter for starters—but I found myself left with a similar feeling: a man looks at himself in a mirror and isn’t quite sure who’s looking back at him. In the foreword Nabakov writes:
It is unlikely that even the most credulous peruser of this twinkling tale will take long to realize who Smurov is. I tried it on an old English lady, two gra
...more
Amir
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
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Ava
احتمالا قرار بوده که این کار تجربه ی یه آدم از خودش توو موقعیت های مختلف باشه و وجه ی مرموزی از خودش رو کشف کنه که برای خودش هم ناشناخته است... اما تمام این دو سه تا موقعیت دارن همون یه آدم خسته و بی پناه و " مهاجر " قبلی رو نشون می دن که رگه هایی هم از آنارشی توو وجودش داره و هیچچیز جدیدی از آول تا همون برگ آخر کشف نمیشه. کلک راوی هم فککنم واسه خیلی ها خیلی زود رو بشه و متوجه یکی بودن این دو تا آدم بشن.

پ.ن : بعد خوندن لولیتا شاید بقیه ی کتاب های ناباکوف محکوم به همین سه تا ستاره باشن.
Shaimaa Ali
بالكاد استطعت انهاءها .. ولولا الحبكة الأخيرة بمعرفة شخصية العين/ الجاسوس لما استطعت حتى اعطاءها النجمتين!!
(دايماً حظى مش حلو مع الأدب الروسى ) ..
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Nabokov in Three ...: Initial Impressions 1 7 Dec 01, 2011 07:39AM  
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
  • Eugene Onegin, Vol. I (Text)
  • The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness
  • Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Noise of Time: Selected Prose
  • The Village of Stepanchikovo
  • Envy
  • Memories of the Future
  • The Galosh
  • Sofia Petrovna
  • Happy Moscow
  • The Gentleman from San Francisco and Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • The Shooting Party
  • Petersburg
  • Forever Flowing
  • The Dream Life of Sukhanov
  • Zoo or Letters Not About Love
  • Black Snow
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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
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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.” 13 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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