Rob's Reviews > The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
Sep 11, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: unfinished, collection
Read in September, 2008 , read count: 1

Explanatory Background Statement: You will notice that this book is shelved "unfinished". In between novels and on a short fiction kick, I decided that I should at least dip my toes into a few hallowed literary names before taking on the mantle of my next Big Read. Ellison was one (see also) and Nabokov was the other. I didn't crack the covers on this one expecting to finish it. Especially as I hefted the thick volume from the library's shelf, I knew that my goal was only to get my feet wet.

My Review (more about Nabokov than this collection, specifically): Nabokov is eloquent and purposeful in his prose. Even as diaphanous metaphors dance fairy-like around The Point, The Point is there -- some artful nugget of Truth upon which he has fixed and thrust his (and now your) attention. I often wonder what gets lost or otherwise muddied in the translation. Which stories are written in "the original Russian" and which in English? Need I not worry about that at all? But I worry that certain expressive techniques don't come across correctly. Alliteration, for example: could an alliterative phrase in one tongue have no analogous transformation? I suppose you could always supplement with a footnote.

Anyway, I feel like a troglodyte saying it but: Nabokov's writing sure is artful but there just wasn't very much in it that I found... compelling. However, "Russian Spoken Here"? A+

I expect to circle back on this collection again, perhaps finish it off, and find more to love.

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Quotes Rob Liked

Vladimir Nabokov
“Everything in the world is beautiful, but Man only recognizes beauty if he sees it either seldom or from afar. Listen, today we are gods! Our blue shadows are enormous! We move in a gigantic, joyful world!”
Vladimir Nabokov, The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

Reading Progress

09/07/2016 marked as: unfinished

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Selena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Selena so far, it's amazing. short but sweet. and long enough to get it's point across without the unnecessary rif-raff.

message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna I am not familiar with this collection, but familiar enough with Nabokov overall to know that he translated his own writing between Russian and English, and wrote a good chunk of stories in English to begin with ("Lolita" being an obvious example). So I wouldn't worry about the translation too much; at the very least, he probably had the final say on the versions you read.

message 3: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob @Anna-- Thanks, good to know.

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