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Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  9,728 ratings  ·  769 reviews
Published two weeks after his seventieth birthday, Ada, or Ardor is one of Nabokov's greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist.  It tells a love story troubled by incest. But more: it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue. Ada, or Ardor is ...more
Paperback, 606 pages
Published February 19th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Zacharias Foster Lolita and Ada are, for the most part, completely unrelated novels. There are a handful of references to Nabokov's earlier books sprinkled throughout …moreLolita and Ada are, for the most part, completely unrelated novels. There are a handful of references to Nabokov's earlier books sprinkled throughout the text, but these aren't at all essential to understanding and enjoying Ada. That said, if you aren't familiar with some of Nabokov's other work, Ada might prove a difficult point of entry. It's frequently recondite, maddeningly dense, and seasoned with "orgies of epithelial alliterations." It's a magnificent book, it really is, but it might not be a bad idea to start yourself off in shallower Nabokovian waters.(less)

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Ilse
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia, reviewed
She was soon ready, and they kissed tenderly in their hall way, between lift and stairs, before separating for a few minutes. “Tower”, she murmured in reply to his questioning glance, just as she used to do on those honeyed mornings in the past, when checking up on happiness. “And you?”
“A regular ziggurat”


A book that opens with a pedigree of aristocratic sounding Russian names could easily give the impression that a classic family epic will be the reader’s part. That misleading family tree is o
...more
Fionnuala
One of the objects that immediately comes to mind when I think back to my childhood is a red rowboat exactly like the one in my avatar. That’s no coincidence of course as the avatar started out as an attempt at a symbolic ‘self-portrait’ based on personal memories. If there is coincidence here, it lies in the fact that a red row-boat called Souvenance is a recurrent memory for Van Veen, the narrator of Ada, or Ardor. I counted at least four mentions of that red rowboat with its mobile inlay of r ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle is a fabulous and fanciful amorous dystopia. Right away, with his trial balloon: “All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike,” Vladimir Nabokov shows that his love story is a wicked and highly intellectual parody of everything, of all and sundry in literary world and especially of Leo Tolstoy with his disdainful arrogance of a falsely omniscient nobleman.
Paraphrasing his showy beginning of Anna Karenina: “Happy f
...more
Darwin8u
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
“Maybe the only thing that hints at a sense of Time is rhythm; not the recurrent beats of the rhythm but the gap between two such beats, the gray gap between black beats: the Tender Interval.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

description

Incest, a game the Whole Family Can Play, NOT by Milton's blind Bradley®.

Part I:

There's a whole swath of novels I purchased in my twenties but knowing the authors' genius never felt quite ready to read (ah, tomorrow). It took me years to crack open
...more
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Maybe the only thing that hints at a sense of Time is rhythm; not the recurrent beats of the rhythm but the gap between two such beats, the gray gap between black beats: the Tender Interval.”

First off, I should say this is my least favourite Nabokov novel. It’s an insanely clever novel and probably needs to be read at least twice to be fully appreciated, which is another way of saying it’s hard work. The first three chapters are virtually unreadable. It felt like arriving at someone’s door who
...more
Karen
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Karen by: Anthony Michael
Oh man, what can I say about this book? Just that I could probably reread Ada, and only Ada, for the rest of my life and still feel satisfied. For the most part, I read this book the way I usually read the first time around - that is, superficially, just trying to make general sense of what's going on and enjoying the sexy parts (of which there are many) - but on the few occasions that I sat down and made an effort to decipher the puns and allusions, things just started to click into place, and ...more
Manny
Suppose things had worked out better for Humbert Humbert. Suppose he'd gone to jail for a while but hadn't had a heart attack there, and suppose Lolita hadn't died while still a teenager, giving birth to a stillborn child. Suppose instead that they'd both survived, had various sordid adventures, and then miraculously reconnected twenty years later, at which point they suddenly realised that they had some something beautiful and unique together. And suppose that Humbert actually wrote his memoirs ...more
nostalgebraist
I have trouble writing positive reviews. It's precisely when I love a book that I most strongly feel how little justice my words can do to the experience of reading it, which is how I end up writing reviews like this.

Nonetheless, Ada deserves a review. I'm not a very widely read person, and I rarely feel justified in saying that anything I've read is not read often enough. (How would I know? Maybe everyone else is just off reading other books that are even better.) But I really do believe that A
...more
Aubrey
Remembrance, like Rembrandt, is dark but festive.
If Nabokov is anything, he's clever. Unfortunately for Nabokov, clever is as clever does is rarely good enough in my case, so that lack of fifth star is a team effort on both our parts. Fortunately for Nabakov, so are the remaining four stars, making this review a pleased one despite all my grumbling.

As stated in the summary, the book encompasses fairy tale, epic, thoughts on time, parody of novel, and erotica. The first and second were of med
...more
Warwick
Ada or Ardor is Nabokov's biggest novel, and in many ways a summation of his linguistic dexterity as well as his literary themes, with all the pleasures and problems those things imply.

His writing is a constant astonishment. His admirers are sometimes surprised to remember that it's not to everyone's tastes. Nabokov's sentences are exact, yet often long and complicated; they are utterly stripped of cliché; they are very alert to such pleasures as assonance, alliteration, sesquipedalianism and cr
...more
Geoff
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Stylistically and structurally, Ada is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Isn't that the joy of reading Nabokov anyway, the joy of watching a master at work? The seeming ease of his complicated prose, the assimilation of polyglot, portmonteau words, annagrammitic tricks, haute vocabulary, allusion, and labyrinthine sentences, is really a wonder. The first 200 or so pages of this book are absolutely hypnotizing. Ada is a parody of the modern novel, from Anna Karenina to Lolita, and its most obvious prece ...more
J.G. Keely
I came to a strange realization while reading this book: that practically every instance I can think of where an author used an unreliable narrator, it's always the same character: he's an intelligent, introspective guy with a slight cynical mean streak, a man with a fairly high opinion of himself (which is constantly reaffirmed by the world around him)--he succeeds without trying too hard, usually in a number of fields, though the success never lasts (because where would the plot go if it did?) ...more
Summer
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Oh man, sometimes goodreads really weirds me out, like just now when I read all of these really well-written slams or relative-slams of this book. This book to me is so beautiful and lush and rich. I pick it up all the time and read favorite pages or phrases over again; it makes me feel full. It's romantic and strange. The tedium of parts of it just reminds me of the tedium of real-life. I fucking love the shit out of this book, y'all. ...more
Perry
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Full of Lust 'n ... Genetic Combustion

Constructed with brilliance and complexity and including maybe Nabokov's most radiant, gorgeous writing, the novel runs from 1884 through 1967, covering such heady themes as the texture of time.

Unfortunately, this presented an even higher hurdle for my moral prejudices than Lolita, believe it or not. Perhaps, it's in the way the topic (incest) was approached.

In 1884, deadpan Van is 14 and precious lil' Ada is 12. They believe themselves to be first cousins
...more
Anthony Vacca
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle is not my favorite Nabokov, but, yes, a Nabokov is a Nabokov, so naturally it is preternaturally well-written, is fluent in more languages than you, is better read than you, dresses better, eats better, exercises more, dates all the guys or girls you’re too nervous to talk to, never has to worry about money, is always healthier than you, can hold its liquor better than you can, all in all, is better than you—and knows it too.

Apparently Nabokov was working on two
...more
Hakan
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
ada ya da arzu, lolita ve solgun ateş’ten geçtikten sonra ulaşılacak zirve. nabokov’un başyapıtlarının başyapıtı bu anlamda ve aynı zamanda nabokov okurluğunun da ustalığını şart koşuyor. ilk elli sayfa da böyle bir sınav var adeta: lolita’yı irkilerek, bir direnç oluşturarak mı okudunuz, burada kat kat fazlasıyla karşılaşacaksınız. solgun ateş’in aslında kolay okunan bir roman olduğunu düşüneceksiniz. sonrasında bitip tükensin istemeyeceğiniz ve zaten bitmeyecek, tükenmeyecek bir şölen başlayac ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabokov
I.
"Nabokov is an unsettling writer as well as a funny one because he is deep where he looks shallow, moving when he seems flippant." - Michael Wood, The Magician's Doubts

II.
I've read most of Nabokov's novels and purposefully saved Ada for the end of my initial run. I'm glad I did because I needed the goodwill I'd built up to get through the first 30+ pages which are the most difficult and unappealing of his career. They're fastidiously baroque, smugly preening, and difficult to follow. Almost
...more
Simona  Cosma
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O poveste scandaloasă despre oameni inteligenţi.
Van Veen şi Ada Veen, doi fraţi după tată crescuti de familii diferite, doi copii cu o inteligenţă absolut uluitoare, se îndrăgostesc unul de celălat, iar romanul urmăreşte zbuciumata lor iubire interzisă pe un interval de aproape un secol, până ce aceştia vor trece la cele veşnice.
În cele aproape 600 de pagini descoperim un veritabil poem în proză despre iubire fără limite sociale sau morale, despre căutare, regăsire şi geniu.
În mod suprinzător,
...more
MJ Nicholls
May 29, 2016 marked it as sampled
“This interminable book is written in dense, erudite, alliterative, punsome, pore-clogging prose; and every character, without exception, sounds like late Henry James.” — Martin Amis
Chrissie
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before reading:
Do I dare try this? It looks hard to understand. Disturbing subject too.

********************
On finishing:
The book is amazing. There is absolutely no question about that! Did I love all of it? No. Sometimes I was completely lost, and that just isn’t fun. I didn't understand some lines, but that is due to my own lack of knowledge, not any fault of the book. Take note - the first four chapters are pretty much incomprehensible. Don't quit too soon. No other parts are this difficult.
...more
Teresa
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
«Ada é o livro pelo qual eu gostaria de ser lembrado depois da minha morte.»
[Vladimir Nabokov]

Por mim será lembrado como um dos livros mais difíceis que já li. Perdi-me no labirinto de referências literárias, históricas e geográficas, camufladas por jogos de palavras, anagramas (por exemplo, as Notas são de Vivian Darkbloom - que é dos poucos que consegui decifrar), nomes inventados para pessoas reais e um sem fim de frases de que não apreendi o sentido. Ah, e o capítulo quatro sobre o Tempo e o
...more
Maila
Temo che molti piccoli dettagli di questo romanzo siano sfuggiti alla mia comprensione, ciò nonostante l’ho adorato con ardore.
Credo, infatti, che questo sia uno dei libri dalla scrittura più complessa ai quali mi sia mai avvicinata. Una scrittura a dir poco magnifica (inchino a Nabokov fino a toccarmi gli stinchi con la fronte), che già avevo apprezzato fino all'innamoramento in Lolita, ma che qui viene adornata (e anche un po' appesantita, a onor del vero) con tanti orpelli che ho trovato talv
...more
Ailsa
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: long
A bit rich for my blood.
Walk away with the feeling Nabokov is a genius and I am peasant who barely skates the surface of the English language.
Will reread in 20 years when I am more erudite and sophisticated.
This reading guide was invaluable to understanding the 98% of the tri-lingual puns and obscure literary references that went completely over my head. (Does anyone actually read Chateaubriand?)
Totally inspired now to read Mansfield Park again purely for the incest.
...more
Paul Dembina
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nabakov operates at a different level to most authors. Here we have an extraordinary amount of puns and word play (sometimes crossing languages)
I don't pretend to understand all the references but identified quite enough (with the help of the Notes provided by "Vivian Darkbloom") to make this a most satisfying read.
...more
Ana
I don't even know how to classify this book. Is it science-fiction? It has elements of that genre, yes. Is it fantasy? Sure, it might be, at a very subtle level. Is it magical realism? Damn it, it has traits of that one too. What is it? What? I don't know. But I feel like I've been baptized into Nabokov's style with it. It's my first book of his and I honestly can't wait to get each of his other ones and drown in them.

At certain points, especially in the beginning and in the fourth part of it,
...more
Luís
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ada or ardour is a family chronicle.
It is written in the third person by the hero and protagonist van Veen.
He was almost 90 years old at the time of writing this column.
Van Veen, 14, will meet staying at the Château d'Ardis, near Ladore, an incredible estate, a true childhood paradise. There, he will meet these cousins ​​Ada and Lucette. Ada and van are two precocious children, endowed with extraordinary intelligence. They will live an intense and sensual passion will last their entire life.
Nabo
...more
Annette
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it

I honestly don't understand the hype about this book. I hated it. No, I really did.

I think I've only abandoned 2 books in my whole life - for some reason I stick with them, even when I'm not enjoying them. Don't ask me why; it's some perverse thing I do. I always think they're going to get better but sometimes they don't. So I stuck with Ada and foolishly kissed goodbye to many hours of my life I can never get back.

Whilst Lolita is one of my all time favourite books, I found Ada to be a mishmas
...more
Roman Clodia
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ardis Hall - the Ardors and Arbors of Ardis - this is the leitmotiv rippling through Ada, an ample and delightful chronicle whose principal part is staged in a dream-bright America - for are not our childhood memories comparable to Vineland-born caravelles, indolently encircled by the white birds of dreams?

This self-reflective commentary on the book we have just read is just one instance of the literary games Nabokov plays throughout this complex, challenging text. What really makes the book
...more
Sarah
Oct 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
541 pages in to a 589 page book and I simply can't read the rest. I kept going for awhile because I was hoping to get to the "masterpiece" part. Nope. I didn't care for this at all. The language was beautiful but I simply didn't care about the characters. ...more
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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 a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequ
...more

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