Pete's Reviews > King, Queen, Knave

King, Queen, Knave by Vladimir Nabokov
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Jul 23, 2011

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Read in July, 2011

King, Queen, Knave is an early work by Nabokov, translated from Russian. Not the genius of Pale Fire or Lolita as a novel, or nearly as complex, but the sublime description and metaphor is all there.

Nabokov uses a unique approach to point of view in this one: he constantly jumps perspectives between the three main characters-- Dreyer, Martha, and Franz-- within the same scene, and even within the same paragraph. The POV technique works here. It never confuses me, and it adds to the in-scene tension of the love triangle.

There is a subplot about human-like auto-mannequins that feels kind of tacked on, and crudely symbolic. The ending is...weak? Dull? At times the story felt like an old black and white film. But the writing is so Nabokovy, you have to like it. Just not tight and glowing as a novel like his more famous books.
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