Drew's Reviews > Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
Jul 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: big-and-supposedly-difficult, russian-lit, postmodern-toasties
Read from July 11 to 27, 2011

Nabokov's distinctive style's apotheosis, as far as I can tell. He plays with English the same way he did in Lolita, but more amusingly and with liberal Russian and French thrown in. What makes this better than, say, Pale Fire, is that there is some warmth to it. Pale Fire felt like an exercise: cold and impersonal, and it was impossible to feel much sympathy towards the unfailingly irritating Kinbote. But while Van and Ada can be pretty pretentious, they're also endearing, and it's hard to not care about their story.

And it is (unlike some Nabokov) a story, at least until the last fifty pages or so, where we get an extended meditation on the nature of time and memory that is by turns unintelligible and enlightening, boring and fascinating. It's not for everybody, certainly, and the length is daunting. Someone saw me reading it and remarked that Nabokov is "self-indulgent." That's true for sure, but if there weren't more to it than that, I wouldn't be reading him.
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04/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Drew Also, it loses a star based almost wholly on the impenetrability of the first 25 pages and the obnoxiousness of the last 2. But it's not a huge deal.

Sentimental Surrealist "the obnoxiousness of the last 2."

No great writer could quite be obnoxious like Nabokov.

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