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Ada, or Ardor

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  8,751 ratings  ·  657 reviews
'A great work of art, radiant and rapturous, affirming the power of love and imagination' The New York Times Book Review

Ada or Ardor is a romance that follows Ada from her first childhood meeting with Van Veen on his uncle's country estate, in a 'dream-bright' America, through eighty years of rapture, as they cross continents, are continually parted and reunited, come to l
Paperback, 479 pages
Published April 6th 2000 by Penguin Classics (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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Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 fam
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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


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 th
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
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 mediu
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
"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

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
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
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
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.
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,
MJ Nicholls
May 29, 2016 marked it as sampled  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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,
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 f
perhaps the ultimate desert island book, one that can be read over and over, tweaking out the genealogies, luxuriating in the steamy, fumbling sex of pre-teens, trying to keep up with the uncles and dads via flashbacks, saddened by sickness, mind fevers, hitler, and the just-bad-luck of bojo soviet canada. does this not make sense? well welcome welcome. and for my next trick, WALKING ON MY HANDS!

it's as if david foster wallace somehow was really born in st petersberg and fled in 1919 and after p
Oct 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To write a review of Ada is almost impossible except to say that it is the book in which Nabokov, the greatest prose stylist in English, uses his mastery of the language and his great knowledge of European literary history to his greatest extent and evidently enjoys himself! The whole book is choc-a-bloc with word-play, literary puzzles, allusions to other works, hidden quotations, alliteration, streams of consciousness, history, science fiction, dollops of French, helpings of Russian, laces of ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for one sentence, a sentence that’s followed me around, unattached, uprooted, for years:

“And yet I adore him. I think he’s quite crazy, and with no place or occupation in life, and far from happy, and philosophically irresponsible— and there is absolutely nobody like him.”

Leave it to Nabokov to make that sentence a promise on which the entire book follows through. The acrobatics that man can do with words would stand anyone on their head. Words, in other words, worth every awkw
Claudia Șerbănescu
Am recitit ''Ada sau ardoarea'' după 12 ani și am descoperit că uitasem aproape tot, în afară de firul principal al poveștii: iubirea pătimașă dintre frații Ada și Van Veen.
Personajul meu favorit a rămas Lucinda/Lucy/Lucette Veen cu iubirea sa neîmpartășită și cu destinul său tragic. Condeiul nabokovian i-a dat un contur consistent și a facut-o de neuitat cu părul său roș și ochii verzi, mai ușor de imaginat și de reținut, mai fascinantă decât palida și răutăcioasa Adă.
Pasajele filozofice despr
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I've generally felt that Lolita reads as a character study for Ada. Ada, the book, is a far more epic, more upbeat family dramedy - dramedic from its first line to "Vivian Darkbloom's" endnotes.

It's specious to "review" Ada in the traditional sense, and comparing the two is too - Ada, the character, is a continental sophisticate, Lolita a crass American. The reason Lolita is the more popular and celebrated of the two novels is that while it also at its surface is about a morally inappropriate r
For me, Nabokov is like a band that you hear one song from that you LOVE. You buy the album, however, and find out that you don't really like any of the band's other songs.

This novel is like looking in on someone's life, which sounds cooler than it actually is in practice. It is long, rambling, often boring, often confusing, and largely pointless. I still contend that Nabokov was a genius, but maybe he is generally just too smart for me to get much enjoyment out of most of his work.

The search t
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Nabokov is my favourite writer ever. Each of his books is a unique world, limpid as a dreamy moonscape, of misty backdrops, endearing characters and such brilliant use of words, metaphors, and portmanteaus - a world so unutterably delicate and fabulous! Just like he chased his elusive butterflies, I chased his hard-to-get books, with the insane fixation of a stalker. After reading Pale Fire, I spent months hunting for his most elusive and most wonderful book - Ada or Ardor and just as I was abou ...more
Adam Floridia
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabokov
When planning to review certain books, I find myself subject to the common complaint of so many in freshman comp: I don’t know how to start. And here we are. Despite having “notes” in my head and pages marked (laud or laugh at me for the effort, but yeah I actually consciously semi-plan my GR review as I’m reading. Neeeerd.), it’s tough to sum up my thoughts on a 600 page book, especially when my opinion changed so much in the course of reading. See:

Reading Progress:
page 535 89.0% "meh"
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a trashy novel about the sex lives of idle aristocrats. However, it is by Nabokov and so it is an exquisite trashy novel about the sex lives of idle aristocrats. The prose is beautiful. The word play is delightful. The characters, sadly, are sort of tedious. The narrator, of course, is unreliable.

This book is weird. It is set in an alternate history earth whose geopolitics seem specifically set up so that the characters can make lots of triple language puns that cross Russian, French, an
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 ...more

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
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-again
Το πρώτο διάβασμα σε ένα τέτοιο βιβλίο μπορεί να ναι μόνο επιφανειακό και να πιάνει ένα μικρό εύρος του υλικού που βρίσκεται κρυμένο στις σελίδες του. Οι χωροχρονικές μετατοπίσεις, οι εναλλαγές των αφηγητών και οι διακειμενικές αναφορές το καθιστούν ένα μυθιστόρημα "δύσκολο" στην συνολική εποπτεία, σημείο αναφοράς όμως για αυτό που ονομάζουμε μεταμοντέρνο στη λογοτεχνία.

Πάντως αν και το κύριο θέμα του βιβλίου είναι η ερωτική σχέση των δύο πρωταγωνιστών και το πως εξελίσσεται στον χρόνο, η αίσθησ
Zitat Markust Gasser in FAZ: Schlug man seinen Nabokov auf, las man zwar meist ein bisschen über dem eigenen Niveau, amüsierte sich jedoch trotzdem prächtig dabei: Nabokovs Shakespeare-Größe ermaß...()"

Dieses Buch ist ein Monster. Dem Leser gar nicht zugetan. Fordernd ohne zu fördern. "Kümmere dich gefälligst selbst um das "Verstehen" dieses Textes. Du bist mir wurscht! scheint es dem Leser zuzuraunen. Ganz bestimmt gilt das für die ersten dreißig Seiten - danach schwächt sich diese Haltung ein
Jan 21, 2013 marked it as auf-pause  ·  review of another edition
Ein Splitter:

… Wer wissen will, was ein erotischer Roman ist, hier kann er’s lernen, der hohe (Buch-)Preis verblaßt neben dem hohen Anspruch dieser Literatur voller Intelligenz und Indolenz, Labsal und Lamento, Pornographie und Poesie, Obszönität und Optimismus, Inzest und Innigkeit, Hybris und Heiterkeit, Delikatesse und Degoutanz. Man weiß nach der Lektüre nicht recht, soll man das Buch fortwerfen vor lauter Wut über diesen Bildungsdünkel oder soll man es an die Brust drücken vor Entzücken und
Luis Enrique Vilches
Tardé mucho más de lo que pensé en terminarlo y eso se debe a que me pareció una lectura que requiere y merece dedicación y esmero. Pero qué delicia de novela y qué desborde de imaginación (¿o memoria?), erudición y lingüística la de Nabokov. Definitivamente, uno de esos libros que hay que leer una vez y (seguramente) otra vez más después de un tiempo.
Octavio Villalpando
Nabokov es uno de esos escritores que no hacían simples libros, ¡sino que creaban monumentos enteros a la literatura! De los escritores rusos, siempre he dicho que sus clásicos son algo así como los Cadillacs a la literatura, por donde se vea, tanto en el nivel técnico como en el fondo de sus obras, en lo personal siempre acaban por dejarme extasiado tras su lectura, como después de haber probado el mejor de los banquetes.

De Nabokov, me llama mucho la atención de que, a pesar de que en novelas c
Sentimental Surrealist
Above all, a frankly delightful novel. Nabokov loads this book with puzzles, puns, doubling, foreshadowing, taboos, symbolism, parodies of other people's work, parodies of Nabokov's own work, non-parodic references to Nabokov's own work, subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to an alternate history, loving descriptions of spaces, the list goes on. It's no accident the jacket summary touts how Nabokov published this book shortly after turning 70 - it seems like he was determined to get all his signa ...more
Widyanto Gunadi
This, without a doubt, is the longest novel Nabokov has ever written during his entire lifetime. Clocks in at approximately a little bit more than six hundred pages, the book, like Lolita, tells about a delightfully forbidden love story, closely revolving around the incestual relationship between two equally passionate and capricious lovers, Ada and Van. Upon fulfilling a splendid job by incorporating his trademark poetical prose into this novel, Nabokov had, once again, made us rethink our own ...more
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, but especially people familiar with Nabokovian prose
Thoughts upon completion-- This was a very interesting book for me. To elaborate on the narration observation I mentioned earlier, it seems that Nabokov has a penchant for narrating his novels in a sort of...second-degree sort of way? Or perhaps you could say it's very direct. I have a hard time assigning an exact term to what's happening, so here are some examples of what I mean. In Lolita, for example, which I'm sure many of you have read, the actual story is a confession written by Humbert Hu ...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 frequen
“And yet I adore him. I think he's quite crazy, and with no place or occupation in life, and far from happy, and philosophically irresponsible – and there is absolutely nobody like him.” 126 likes
“Was she really beautiful? Was she at least what they call attractive? She was exasperation, she was torture.” 78 likes
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