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Past BOTM discussions > Ada by Vladimir Nabokov

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message 1: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Place holder, anyone want to moderate? This book, published in 1969, has been in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4 edition.


message 2: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle is Vladimir Nabokov last novel and the most dense. It is full of his usual word play so reader be warned.

An annotation of the book can be found here; http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/


message 3: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
General questions specific questions to follow once I have read the book.

1) Are you looking forward to this book?
2) Have you read anything else by Vladimir Nabokov?
3) What are your expectations going in?


message 4: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
1) I like the fact it is described as fairytale like not sure about the incest side of things.

2) Lolita which I loved the word play was so clever.

3) I am hoping for more clever word play and an interesting story that tackles the incest in a way that is not blatant.


message 5: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
I am not sure that I will have time to read this one but I am intrigued. It is his longest work. It is available in audio but I feel that might not be the best format. Anyone know?


message 6: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
I haven't read it but if it's anything like Lolita I think you would miss the word play on audio.


message 7: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Book wrote: "I haven't read it but if it's anything like Lolita I think you would miss the word play on audio." That’s what I think too.


message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I don't know if I can get to (and finish) this in time. My copy has over 600 pages. I had no idea it was that long.


message 9: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I don't know if I can get to (and finish) this in time. My copy has over 600 pages. I had no idea it was that long."

It’s his longest work.


message 10: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1533 comments I got Lolita as my TBR book this month so it is unlikely I can read this huge book also but we will see. It would be enjoyable to compare the word play between the two books.


message 11: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments I just started this today. I am very much looking forward to it- I love Nabokov’s ability with language.
I’ve read Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire.
I do think that the subtleties of the story would be missed- spellings of words are important in the story so far- in audio.


message 12: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1473 comments I read Lolita some time ago. I got a copy on Interloan and was surprised by its size, but began last night and was completely mystified. Had a quick look at the annotation and am relieved that I can get an explanation for everything that I have missed when I finish!


message 13: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments This is from Wikipedia, but it is footnoted later, so it could be true. Either way, it’s interesting:
Ada" is also a pun, a homophone, for "Ardor". Marina, Ada's mother, pronounces her name with "long, deep" Russian "A"s, which is how a speaker of non-rhotic English would say the word "Ardor". Her name is a play on Ad (Ад), Russian for Hell, which serves as a theme throughout the story


message 14: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
I have borrowed discussion questions from this website http://www.paperstarter.com/ada_ardor...

1) The Critical Importance of Setting in “Ada or Ardor"

2) The Literary Effect of Moral Repugnancy in “Ada or Ardor"

3) The Question of Genre in “Ada or Ardor"

4) Is “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle"


message 15: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
I am now at the 40% mark and so far I am finding this very dull.

The problem I have is a lot of the puns are in French or Russian sometimes German or they need you to have an in depth knowledge of how the author views other writers and how he is in turn viewed in his native country.


message 16: by Tatjana (new)

Tatjana JP | 294 comments 1) Are you looking forward to this book?
I was really looking forward to read this book because ...
2) Have you read anything else by Vladimir Nabokov?
... I read Lolita, and, unlike other readers, just hated it.
3) What are your expectations going in?
I was hoping to have different impression this time but again, I just cannot love the book which I find morally unacceptable. His writing stile is beautiful, sentences are really dense with words, there is wordplay all the time and it takes time to go through it. Nabokov is an extraordinary writer, his intelligence and eloquence are outstanding; I love his usage of many foreign languages.
Nevertheless, I cannot give it more than 2 stars.


message 17: by Book (last edited Sep 17, 2018 11:43AM) (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
I finished the book yesterday and while I found the ending more enjoyable than the beginning I really do feel that a lot of the detail is lost in translation, which for me made this a dull book.

I liked the story within a story and the way comments are added to the manuscript but this was the only really "fun" thing I found.

1) The Critical Importance of Setting in “Ada or Ardor" I think the country estate where Van and Ada meet is critical to what happens it is a kind of forest of Arden where anything can occur out in the real world the relationship is not acceptable.

2) The Literary Effect of Moral Repugnancy in “Ada or Ardor" Not sure about this question, morally what Ada and Van do together is wrong but what was even worse was how they treat Lucette.

3) The Question of Genre in “Ada or Ardor"

4) Is “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle" In the sense that it chronicles what happens within a specific family, yes, in the traditional meaning I would say probably not on balance.


message 18: by Book (last edited Sep 17, 2018 11:45AM) (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
Here are a few quotes that struck me as memorable:

"Fuligula ducks were falling and rising upon the rain pocked swell in concentrated enjoyment of double water"

"in 1933, Athaulf Hindler (also know as Mittler - from 'to mittle', mutilate) came to power in Germany"

"Ada. Van. Ada. Vaniada. Nobody."


message 19: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Book wrote: "I finished the book yesterday and while I found the ending more enjoyable than the beginning I really do feel that a lot of the detail is lost in translation, which for me made this a dull book.

I..."
I thought Nabokov always wrote in English even though he was a Russian. He also lived in the US and Ada was his last book, so I just assumed it was written in English.


message 20: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2078 comments Mod
Kristel wrote: "Book wrote: "I finished the book yesterday and while I found the ending more enjoyable than the beginning I really do feel that a lot of the detail is lost in translation, which for me made this a ..."

I think it's more that a lot of the jokes are plays on words in different languages including Russian and German so I feel I missed a lot by not understanding this.


message 21: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1473 comments I found this book very challenging to read. To begin with, I was finding that however hard I tried to concentrate the book was sleep-inducing. Then my daughter told me how much she loved it and how important a book it was and I attempted more enthusiasm in my reading, with frequent visits to Brian Boyd's explanations - after all he was from the University of Auckland. In the end I had to cancel social engagements (there are other books I want to finish this month) in order to finish it - and I am left wondering if the time reading it was well spent.
1. How important is the setting? To begin with I was frustrated because I could not locate the setting. was it North America or was it Russia? When I realised that Nabokov was toying with the reader and the setting was a fictional location and there were time-warps going on all over the place I relaxed and realised that the incestuous relationship would not survive in a literal locality.
2. Moral repugnance? Nabokov seems to be able to nullify what one would usually reject (rape, incest, paedophilia, violence) with the quality of his writing. Better critics than I can explain this, but I felt myself accepting the unacceptable in this book.
3. The genre could be family saga, science fiction, philosophical treatise or whatever. I was intrigued that French and occasionally German were left untranslated, but that Russian was usually explained. which leaves me to wonder, who was the target audience Nabokov wrote for?


message 22: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Finally starting this.

1) Are you looking forward to this book?
Yes. I have liked his other books I have read. I loved Lolita.

2) Have you read anything else by Vladimir Nabokov?
I have read Lolita, Pnin, and Pale Fire.

3) What are your expectations going in?
I expect this to be a complex read.


message 23: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments 1) The Critical Importance of Setting in “Ada or Ardor"
I thought the geographical setting was vague or fictitious. Like Pip, said, it was hard to nail down which country it was set in. It was almost like the setting was a unique creation of Nabokov, combining the US, Russia, France, and possibly the UK. There were familiar aspects of these places and not so familiar aspects.
I didn't find the setting in terms of time period always convincing. The unique setting possibly made some of the events possible and more socially acceptable than they would be in a "real-life" setting.


2) The Literary Effect of Moral Repugnancy in “Ada or Ardor"
A lot of the content and situations made me uncomfortable. I can see how a lot of people would abandon the book.

3) The Question of Genre in “Ada or Ardor"
This is a strange blend of genres. It is historical fiction, romance, and sci-fi/fantasy at the same time. Smut, too. I guess you can say it blurred the lines of more distinct genres. There were some similarities to typical Russian writing, but with unusual deviations. In some ways, it was almost if he was making fun of traditional genres. I found part 4 most difficult and I am not sure how to classify it.

4) Is “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle"
Somewhat. The main characters are related, after all. It is very different, however, from your classic Russian family saga.

Rating: 2.5 stars. This was a difficult read for me, far more so than his other works I have read. I appreciate that it is well-written and innovative in style, but much of it was lost on me. Overall, not the best reading experience, but I can see how someone with more discriminating tastes than my own with consider it genius.


message 24: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments 1. The setting, an America with no distinction between North and South America, was odd. Russian settlers were the reason for all the Russian names and references. And it’s almost a steampunk novel, with the technological advances. I think it worked, but it took some getting used to.
2. The morals in this book...were thrown out of the window. Repugnant is a good description. I agree with BW- the way they treated Lucette was even more repulsive.
3. Genre? Nabokov don’t need no stinkin’ genre..
4. I do think this is a family story, albeit a messed up one.
This was brilliantly written, but the inside jokes were over my head, and the relationships were just not OK.


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