What truly admirable prose!
A literary virtuoso was he! I bow down to you in awe Vlad!
OK, maybe I'm getting a little over excited, and maybe he didn't hit the vast heights of Lolita or Pale Fire, but he still manages with Despair to write a prose head and shoulders above most other writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I can't think of any other writer (at least off the top of my head) that brings me such joyous literary moments than that sp ...more
Just a word or so on this one—then a warning of sorts. Neither will be particularly useful, and neither should be given much weight. If your Read list is lacking an adequate Nabokov presence, if it lacks gravitas, pick this up, read it, pat yourself on the back, give it the obligatory 4 stars, and try to forget, as quickly as you can, that you saw the ending coming. It’s Nabokov, it matters, probably more than you will; certainly, more than I. There are funny bits, and sinister bits, and clever...more
snooty indictment of literary criticism I've ever read. Wow. This is the most self-flagellating, masochistically interior, intellectually crushing self-indictment I've ever read by an artist. What a contradiction. What a clever little motherfucker. What a way to illuminate the disconnect between self and perception-of-self by others, of artistic expression v. reception.
How dare you be you. I'm glad you're dead, Vladimir Nabokov*. N ...more
Nabokov's narrator, we soon learn, lives in a kind of hall of mirrors. And who wouldn't go insane in such an abode? And he has lots of fun playing with the notion that art mirrors life or vice versa. Our hero plots a murder as a work of art. Every detail required to serve the execution of the cent ...more
Little silly kalliope, upon entering the pages of this despairing novel, wonders at her existence. This is all about her, or rather, about not being herself at all, but just the unoriginal existence of doubles. How come is she called like the Grand Kalliope, the Muse? They are clearly not the same. One is the doppelgänger of the other. She is clearly not the ‘one’, so she must be the ‘other’? But how can she refer to herself as the ‘other’? This baffles her and sends her mind into a spiral. She ...more
In this, one of his lesser-known works, the egotistical and foppish narrator confesses to murdering someone who looks exactly like him in an attempt to collect his own life insurance money (and, more subconsciously, to rid the world of his weird doppelganger). Of course, Vladdy isn’t ...more
The writing is, as you kind of expect from Nabokov, stellar. The story is interesting, and it does not require as much from the reader as some of his other books do -- indeed, Nabokov writes that the book has a "plain structure and pleasing plot. ...more
The title of this novel is deceiving. One would expect that a novel na ...more
I take deep breaths of exasperation reading every fourth sentence this guy writes. What, can he just go on playing with my feelings? As if he's never gonna call back? He's not, is he?
Despair was just such a declaration. Fool tries to fool people, and you say, "Ah! This is his first book. It'll show his immaturity and I'll not have to gasp in pai ...more
Plotline: The narrator and protagonist of the story, Hermann Karlovich, a Russian of German descent and owner of a chocolate factory, meets a homeless man in the city of Prague, whom he believes is his doppelgänger. Even though Felix, the supposed doppelgänger, is seemingly unaware of their resemblance, Hermann insists that their likeness is most striking. Hermann is married to Lydia, a sometimes silly and forgetful wife (according to Hermann) who h ...more
At the beginning of the novel, I felt a more linear narrative would have reined in some of the unwieldy flights of fancy but towards the end I realised that the disjointed (underst ...more
That pretty much covers the novel proper. It starts as such a wonderful meta-fiction whose “author” is a real nutter with the absolute least sense of “self” ever (ironically, he, of course, feels that he is totally self-aware with a complete understanding of not only his identity, but of others’). Despite th ...more
Hermann is such a perverse narrator. He plays with you and he is not to be trusted. One of the very few books when I felt I created a relationship with the narrator.
Don't be mi ...more
Love that Hermann's tale ends on April 1st ;)
"Despair" in a nutshell: at one point, the novel's author -- who never published the novel himself, but merely sent the manuscript to Mr. Nabokov -- weighs the benefits of this or that name for his novel. "Crime and Pun" is one of the titl ...more
1. "I dislike intensely 'The Brothers Karamazov' and the ghastly 'Crime and Punishment' rigmarole. No, I do not object to soul-searching and self-revelation, but in those books the soul, and the sins, and the sentimentality, and the journalese, hardly wa ...more
Nobody enjoys despair. But many will enjoy Despair. The title, I'm of the suspicion that it is a Nabokovian pun - think of the Bronx newsboy patter, holding his hands out in front of his tattered jacket like proffered goblets and saying "Dis pair!" in describing a passing woman's buxomnesses to a fellow nobody newsboy, think of "Deuce, Pair" in the classic "Picnic, Lightning" sense, think of "Deus Pere" in some sort of reference God the Father in a truncated trinity. T ...more
|Around the Year i...: Despair, by Vladimir Nabokov||1||14||Apr 16, 2016 11:43PM|
|level_bo: Книга мая (2015) - Отчаяние||31||85||May 21, 2015 05:01AM|
|Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect page number for Despair||7||23||Apr 06, 2015 04:02AM|
|Catching up on Cl...: Despair SPOILERS||3||50||Oct 09, 2014 02:01PM|
|Catching up on Cl...: Despair: NO Spoilers||9||49||Oct 09, 2014 01:54PM|
|Catching up on Cl...: Despair: Introduction & Background||9||34||Sep 04, 2013 04:20PM|
|Nabokov in Three ...: Impressions||1||10||Feb 08, 2012 06:11AM|
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 ...more