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Transparent Things

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,154 ratings  ·  241 reviews
"Transparent Things revolves around the four visits of the hero - sullen, gawky Hugh Person - to Switzerland... As a young publisher, Hugh is sent to interview R., falls in love with Armande on the way, wrests her, after multiple humiliations, from a grinning Scandinavian and returns to NY with his bride... Eight years later - following a murder, a period of madness and a ...more
Paperback, 105 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage (first published 1972)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  3,154 ratings  ·  241 reviews


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Vit Babenco
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Things of our life Things of the past
When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!

Transparent Things is a psychoanalytical comedy of manners Dark, but comedy anyway.
Hugh Person the main hero is an original but he doesnt belong
...more
Geoff
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: volodya
A perfect novella. You can have your 1,000+ page encyclopedic mammoths of verbose density of such mind-warpage that you must compile dictionaries of new concepts and schematized flow charts of character interrelations (and I can have them too); but sometimes 105 pages of flawless, tautly interwoven pulses of prose is all that's required to send a lover of words into ecstasy. Transparent Things also happens to be a concise formulation and summation of the ineffable eternal crystalwork that is ...more
Steven Godin
1972.....Hmm, something tells me this Novella would have been more greatly appreciated had it been written around 1952. The territory of Nabokov's peak, and his greatest achievements as a writer. This was my second Vlad in a week, and sad to say it had nothing on the brilliant 'The Real Life of Sebastian Knight'. Transparent Things received some marmite reviews by the critics back in the seventies (most of which Nabokov laughed off) and while I won't go as far as marmite (which I dislike) this ...more
Barry Pierce
Revolving around man's numerous excursions to Switzerland, this incredibly short novel serves as the perfect paint-sampler into Nabokov's later works. As with most of Nabokov's work, the plot is weird and highly original and of course his prose complements it perfectly. Sometimes I read Nabokov and I come across a phrase or a piece of writing describing something and it makes me stop, because it is so simple but so genius that I cannot comprehend how the human mind ever thought of such a series ...more
MJ Nicholls
I read this exhilarating novella in a two-hour burst, knees bumped with bliss, hands clasped in delight, eyes lacquered to the page.

This is Nabokov's penultimate novel, before the "doddery" (so says Martin Amis) Look at the Harelquins, and not including his unfinished posthumous one, The Original of Laura. This is part of his trilogy of "nympholepsy novels" (so says Amis again), and shows the cartwheeling prose gymnastics of the last great Russian writer at their finest.

Essential.
Michael
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is oh so clever without much soul. A delicious beginning:
When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level at the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines.
A thin veneer of immediate reality is spread over natural and artificial matter, and whoever wishes to remain in the now, with the now,
...more
Edward
There is little here of enduring substance, apart from the spectacle of Nabokov himself. This slender volume contains all the Nabokovian elements: the unconventional style of narration (check!); the wonderfully pretentious prose, with smatterings of French and Russian (and why the hell not throw in a little German and Italian this time - check!); the nymphet and the older man (check!); the Russian émigré (check!); there's even tangential reference made to butterflies and chess (check! check!). ...more
Darwin8u
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
"When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntary sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!"
-- Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things

description

Like almost every one of Nabokov's novels/novellas I've read so far, 'Transparent Things' has moments of absolute and immortal genius. I feel
...more
Cody
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritism, nabo-wabo
(Lightning Review)

Apparently I don't know how to use the second reading function. Whatever. One of my absolute favorite Nabokov's and probably his most flat-out mean-spirited. Which, naturally, translates to a whole ski lift full of fun. I'm pressed to think of another writer who excelled so greatly at getting off on doing horrible things to his characters, and here he pretty much outdoes himself on that order. Likely Top 3 Nabo for me. Oops, I'm rapping. Revelation: pretty women are generally
...more
R.
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007, 2019
Transparent Things is an EP remix of elements from Pale Fire, Lolita. Love, murder.

Tracks include:

1. Moby's Love Remix
2. Orbital's Murder Remix
3. NIN's Memory Mix
4. Angelo Badalementi's Dream Mix (vocals by Julee Cruise)

European version includes:
5. Hotel of Flames Dance-Dub Mix (uncredited, but an ASCAP search revealed that it was performed/recorded by Aphex Twin and Robert Fripp.)
Tanuj Solanki
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book, america, dreams, nba
A novel will always find it difficult to stand firm on the sole pillar of style. Nabokov's attempt to achieve this is exemplary, here not any more than elsewhere. And perhaps the fallout is intentional: All English novels by Nabokov have to feel, in varying degrees, like experiments in style rooted in a dark satire.

Plot-less prose, basically. Some smug verbiage in the garb of all all-knowing narrator. There is no story that one can promptly recite, though I find it worthy to elaborate the
...more
Manny
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
As a resident of Geneva, I think of this book whenever I see a "No Dogs" sign. The French text says CHIENS INTERDITS... but, as Nabokov asks, why exactly should it be illegal to cross a poodle with a dachshund?

And his comments on the sad decline of Swiss hot chocolate are all too true. Note to unwary tourists: if you see chocolat chaud à l'ancienne on a café menu, don't assume this refers to real, old-fashioned, hand-made hot chocolate. It means, rather, that they will charge you CHF 5.50 for a
...more
Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
2.5 stars!

NOTE: I'm really close to a milestone on my Instagram (3,000 followers!) and would love to reach it: www.instagram.com/alicetiedthebookish...

This is a novella following a character called Hugh, who travels to Europe on a mission to interview R. and experiences lots of other events such as falling in love and travelling. The length of the story is short but does cover some time span of a decade after Hugh's European travels. I struggled to connect with the characters and found the
...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
There was a point-probably during Ada- where Nabokovs fiction lapsed into the self-absorption and solipsism, where his stories became vehicles for him to exhibiting his idiosyncrasy and neuroses, where, instead of being transported into aesthetic bliss, the reader is instead transported into the malevolent madness of Nabokovs characters; that is not to say that the novels are necessarily bad or aesthetically displeasing, indeed, there are more than enough purple passages to keep the reader ...more
Ben Winch
I wont call this facile because, you know, whos to say? That theres depth of a sort here is clear given Geoff Wilts and MJ Nicholss reactions among others, but it seems possible theres a disconnect between that depth and the surface, the connection only there for those with intimate former knowledge of Nabokov. Me, I have no such knowledge. Ive barely gone near the guy since I was 19, when Lolita made me shrug and move on without further thought. Until now, I hadnt quite understood that shrug: I ...more
Smiley
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Since around the fourth week of last August, I've opted to read this paperback due to its seemingly manageable pages and large fonts; however, I found it less readable than his "Lolita" (Penguin 1995) in terms of its obscure plot in which I found intolerably chaotic till I came across this informative synopsis that follows on a page inside the back cover of his "The Luzhin Defense" (Vintage 1990).

"Transparent Things revolves around the four visits of the hero -- sullen, gawky Hugh Person -- to
...more
Daniel
Reminiscent of his better-known "Pnin," Vladimir Nabokov's 1972 short novel "Transparent Things" is, like much of Nabokov's writing, full of humorous wordplay, back-and-forth movements in time, unreliable narration, and mockery of its characters. (Much of this book's humor comes from its copious use of parantheticals -- and from poking fun at the very use of such parantheticals.)

It's hard to say why "Transparent Things" doesn't get the same respect "Pnin" does, but it should; I may have enjoyed
...more
David
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: oulipo-mo
Following his longest novelistic work, Ada, Nabokov gave us his smallest, Transparent Things: a miniature Fabergé egg of a novel, highly ornamental, highly sophisticated in design, but with an elegant simplicity. Within this ovoid coruscation of Nabokovian bravura and prosodic flourish, is a jeweled miniature of the master's oeuvre - a sort of encored farewell to literature, although he would go on to write Look at the Harlequins! and begin, but not finish, Laura. This novelette is a sort of ...more
nostalgebraist
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, nabokov
At least four stars because:

It's Nabokov in full late-period stylistic glory. I've felt let down by a lot of Nabokov's work, but I keep reading him because I still remember the sense of occult glee I felt while walking home from the library at age 18, reading the opening pages of Lolita (which I'd checked out with the vague sense that it was the sort of thing one should have read before going to college) -- my first intimation that "literature" (that musty cathedral) might be more closely
...more
Isabel
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, kobo
"It is generally assumed that if man were to establish the fact of survival after death, he would also solve, or be on the way to solving, the riddle of Being."


Melusina
Mar 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Writing two pages about the history of the pencil - priceless. Recycling over and over again main characters and their circumstances (madness, murder) seems to confirm the inferiority of content as opposed to style, narration theory and the intricate relationship between reader and writer.
All of Nabokov's books are special, if only for their rich vocabulary and often puzzling mind games played by the author, but these cat-and-mouse twists become eventually tiring. And like Joyce, one cannot
...more
Josh
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Lolita gets all of the press thanks to its scandalous subject matter (and it's an amazing novel), but Transparent Things deserves to come out of its shadow. So tightly constructed -- this is Nabokov's third-to-last novel (counting the one that came out posthumously), and he is at the height of every single one of his powers -- linguistically, structurally, philosophically... As soon as I finished I turned back to page 1 and re-read it.

Almost finished with the mission to read all of his
...more
Marc
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
An odd, little sliver of a book (just barely more than 100 pages)... Kind of a search for love and memory, whose traces might be transparent, but whose meaning is anything but. Captures the kind of square-peg-trying-to-fit-a-round-hole feeling much of life has. Wasn't until the last 20 pages or so that the book really caught me and sent my thoughts in motion.
ellie
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nabokov is having himself a grand old time here. He utilizes his mind-boggling vocabulary, facile turns of phrase, and sly smirking humor with an almost lazy ease, and at times, a heavy hand. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny, in a particular sort of zany way. Outrageous quirks. Satire in between parenthetical asides. That sort of thing.

HOWEVER.

unlikeable characters are not necessarily a bad thing, but it was hard for me to sympathize with the sardonic affection nabokov has for them as
...more
Bettie
Transparent Things

Fraudio> rosado> Read by Christopher Lane.
pub 1972
summer 2013
tbr busting 2013
short story (105 pages)> murder and madness
tongue in cheek
sleazy> paedophillic undertones again

from wiki: This short novel tells the story of Hugh Person, a young American editor, and the memory of his four trips to a small village in Switzerland over the course of nearly two decades.

Hugh Person is a Who? person, another dislikeable character that flooded in from the Nabokovian nib.
...more
John
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
can Nabokov really work his genius in so slender a volume as this? pretty much.
Noël Ward
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
You pick this up and its about a hundred pages, should be a quick read, no? No. This is written by Nabokov the conjurer and you are going to need to keep going back and forth and occasionally patting your pocket to see if hes pinched your keys.

This is a book of Nabokov toying with the reader as he does with the protagonist and as he does with the English language. He draws your attention to someone or something, tells you to watch them, pay attention! You try but soon hes handing you back your
...more
Kris McCracken
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ostensibly the tale of an odd American, and the memory of his four trips to a small village in Switzerland over the course of his life. The narrative provides an opportunity for reflection on this fellows turbulent life. Moreover, it affords the author the occasion to demonstrate a little literary flourish and walk the reader through themes of time, love, authorship, and the metaphysics of memory.

As such, it can be a little hard going. Theres a vivid description of the struggle our protagonist
...more
Cam *tactile seeker*


Men have learned to live with a black burden, a huge aching hump; the supposition that "reality" may be only a "dream". How much more dreadful it would be if the very awareness of your being aware of reality's dreamlike nature were also a dream , built-in hallucination! One should bear in mind, however, that there is no mirage without a vanishing point, just as there is no lake without a closed circle of reliable land."


Vladimir Nabokov is probably the author I respect the most.
I've only had the
...more
Laura Henderson
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a chronicle of a melancholy and masochistic journey of a lone man to locations of poignant personal significance, in retrospect, in his tragic life. If you are a fan of Nabokov's, the main character is a version of the often-seen neurotic, intelligent, and soul-sick young man, who is bound by a passion into a path that seems always thwarted.

The leading man is awkward, self-critical, and highly intelligent. Nabokov knows how to render a "chance turn of events" - wherein the anti-hero
...more
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10,050 followers
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
...more

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