Nabokov's Dozen: A Collection of Thirteen Stories‏ PDF

Nabokov's Dozen: A Collection of Thirteen Stories‏ (Anchor Literary Library) Nabokov s Dozena collection ofshort stories by Vladimir Nabokov previously published in American magazines Nine of them also previously appeared in Nine Stories All were later reprinted within The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov Spring in Fialta Forgotten poet First love Signs and symbols Assistant producer Aurelian Cloud, castle, lake Conversation piece,That in Aleppo once Time and ebb Scenes from the life of a double monster Mademoiselle O Lance More than anything else, Nabokov writes about words His best work balances gracefully the referential and other functions of language, so that the text is both a world in itself with puns, ironies, bot mots, and so on and a window to the fictional world it describes with characters, feelings, other ironies, and the like.That s an oversimplification, I know, but the point is this in reading these stories, I felt like the text was opaque Each piece was lovely in itself, but that very loveli More than anything else, Nabokov writes about words His best work balances gracefully the referential and other functions of language, so that the text is both a world in itself with puns, ironies, bot mots, and so on and a window to the fictional world it describes with characters, feelings, other ironies, and the like.That s an oversimplification, I know, but the point is this in reading these stories, I felt like the text was opaque Each piece was lovely in itself, but that very loveliness obscured its point The thing made a better door than window.Once in a while a passage would resolve itself into a unit of meaning, and invariably that meaning was profoundly beautiful hence the three stars But then it would fade as suddenly as it had appeared, technical prowess replacing aesthetic vision as the author s most salient characteristic Fans of Classical music, think of a cadenza in a Mozart concerto.Overall, then, while I imagine that annotating this book would be a delightful exercise, reading it was something else altogether Got the taste for his books now Ready to readby Nabokov. I half expected a Nabokovian dozen to contain one less than the norm, but no, I did the old trickster a disservice like a baker s round dozen, this collection of assorted short stories contains a generous thirteen of the things.The first of them, the tale of a spasmodic affair of stolen moments between two married Russian exiles across twelve years and called Spring in Fialta is simply wonderful, full of the idiosyncratically caressing prose that only Nabokov can conjure up In sporting parl I half expected a Nabokovian dozen to contain one less than the norm, but no, I did the old trickster a disservice like a baker s round dozen, this collection of assorted short stories contains a generous thirteen of the things.The first of them, the tale of a spasmodic affair of stolen moments between two married Russian exiles across twelve years and called Spring in Fialta is simply wonderful, full of the idiosyncratically caressing prose that only Nabokov can conjure up In sporting parlance, it s worth the price of admittance on its own.In A Forgotten Poet the reputation of a rustic wordsmith thought dead for fifty years is resurrected by the dubious revisionism of a new, revolutionary generation, only for the celebrations to be rendered ridiculous when he turns up again out of the blue If it is him Signs and Symbols , seemingly about an old couple visiting their paranoid son in a sanitarium, is no doubt much cleverer in design than I could work out, but I enjoyed it anyway Likewise Time and Ebb which could almost be considered a science fiction story, and contains this exceptional description of a child s impression of his mother, who died when he was still an infant I can only recall her as a vague patch of delicious lachrymal warmth just beyond the limit of iconographical memory Somewhat incredibly to me , Lance is also a science fiction story, albeit strictly an amateur performance, with quite casual stage properties and a minimum of scenery That in Aleppo once and Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster in turn focus on two of Nabakov s constant themes the first delusion, the second the idea of the double I liked the story of a madman who or may not have been married to a madwoman for a short while, but the story of Siamese twins conjoined at the navel was a little too obvious for me.Of the rest, two of them later formed part of his autobiography, Speak, Memory First Love tells of exactly that, while Mademoiselle O is about the Swiss governess he and his brother had for several years The writing of these two pieces appearsincere than his usual way, which you would expect, but could he really recall so vividly such detailed scenes experienced through five year old eyes Who cares, they are so exquisite.A final word for his closing statement in the Bibliographical Note at the end of my edition He confirms that the above two stories are true to life, then concludes As to the rest, I am noguilty of imitating real life than real life is responsible for plagiarizing me Well said, Vlad Though I found it a little bit hard for me maybe cause I m not that into drama this much, but it was fun to read and to explore Nabokov s world Maybe I d give it another shot some other time. Most of these stories are simple,or less obvious tales of slight emotional impact, but constructed artfully and with exceptionally rich vocabulary and phrasing They merit frequent re readings not because they are at all difficult to understand or complex which they are not but because the flowing rhythm of their sounds and images is so pleasing, making re reading like listening again to a favorite symphony A couple are total fantasies, barely brushing any real lived experience, one i Most of these stories are simple,or less obvious tales of slight emotional impact, but constructed artfully and with exceptionally rich vocabulary and phrasing They merit frequent re readings not because they are at all difficult to understand or complex which they are not but because the flowing rhythm of their sounds and images is so pleasing, making re reading like listening again to a favorite symphony A couple are total fantasies, barely brushing any real lived experience, one in the imaginary resort of Fialta , another, Lance, in a hallucinatory and multilayered time several millennia hence and deep outer space, overlapping with the here and now of mid twentieth century mid America Even these are occasion for wry social commentary, on adultery, frustration and lost opportunity in Spring in Fialta and on the craft of commercial fiction in Lance, where I especially liked this remark by the narrator as he tries and fails to recall a particular face All I manage to glimpse is an effect of melting light on one side of her misty hair, and in this, I suspect, I am insidiously influenced by the standard artistry of modern photography and I feel how much easier writing must have been in former days when one s imagination was not hemmed in by innumerable visual aids, and a frontiersman looking at his first giant cactus or his first high snows was not necessarily reminded of a tire company s pictorial advertisement This was written in 1952 How muchinsidious has become the effect of all the imagery that bombards us today It s hard to write fresh, perhaps even impossible to escape all the trite phrases and images stored in our memory Nevertheless, and knowing this, Nabokov tries harder than most popular authors, resorting to rhetorical surprise to force his readers to look again He accomplishes this by his use of unexpected and unusual adjectives and nouns that require us to stop, if only for a nanosecond, to think on what is truly being invoked.Nabokov wrote and published several of these stories originally in Russian, and at least one Mademoiselle O in French, to later translate them into English in the case of Mademoiselle O with the acknowledged assistance of Hilda Ward , while the others were written and published originally in English he also hadthan a passing acquaintance with German he lived in Berlin for 15 years, as you might guess from the stories Cloud, Castle, Lake and The Aurelian Thus his linguistic resources and appreciation of the peculiar virtues of each language were quite exceptional There are two stories here that I have already readthan once and will surely enjoy reading again, the only two which are except for a change of names true in every detail to the author s remembered life, as he tells us in a Biographical Note Mademoiselle O and First Love Nabokov tells us he was 6 when Mlle O arrived at his parents house, some 50 miles from Saint Petersburg, which would have been 1905, a year of revolution First Love takes place only four years later, and recounts a marvelous train voyage all the way from Saint Petersburg to the beach at Biarritz The remembered first sensations of a child, not yet contaminated by all the influences of custom and advertising, make these stories seem truly fresh, and the tentative and contradictory emotions of the child rhyme with my own, and thus sound truly authentic I m not a guy who plays favourites Music, art and everything else, my preferences change with my mood and the weather Ask who my favourite author is though and the answer will be, every time, Vladimir Nabokov.Many of the short stories in this book don t have particularly gripping plots, but at this length they don t really need to Instead, they exhibit everything that made Nabokov an unparalleled writer vivid descriptions of people, places, and things which make them spring to life in the re I m not a guy who plays favourites Music, art and everything else, my preferences change with my mood and the weather Ask who my favourite author is though and the answer will be, every time, Vladimir Nabokov.Many of the short stories in this book don t have particularly gripping plots, but at this length they don t really need to Instead, they exhibit everything that made Nabokov an unparalleled writer vivid descriptions of people, places, and things which make them spring to life in the reader s imagination, sweeping flourishes that border on poetry, and that understated but very deliberate comedic tonic to bitter situations The highlight of the set for me was Spring In Fialta, a beautiful, sad reflection on the relationship between two people who arethan friends but less than lovers Nabokov was a writer s writer a grand master of the written word Nowhere else have I seen such concentrated genius John Banville comes close I had to cut my reading speed in half to work through the density of this writing every word perfectly chosen every scene and character imaginatively described with incredibly insightful and telling detail As for plot, the author conjures a series of scenes rather than telling a story, though a story does emerge Of course I liked some of the stori Nabokov was a writer s writer a grand master of the written word Nowhere else have I seen such concentrated genius John Banville comes close I had to cut my reading speed in half to work through the density of this writing every word perfectly chosen every scene and character imaginatively described with incredibly insightful and telling detail As for plot, the author conjures a series of scenes rather than telling a story, though a story does emerge Of course I liked some of the storiesthan others my favorites were Spring in Fialta and The Aurelian For glimpses of old Russia I liked A Forgotten Poet, and for the Stalinist era, The Assistant Producer For hilarious character sketches, Conversation Piece takes the prize In short, I found nearly all of the stories richly rewarding Liked somethan others. The master storyteller, passionate lepidopterist, patriotic emigr and all around HEARTTHROB that was Vladimir Nabokov amazes and mystifies again with each these short stories Particular favourites First Love, Spring in Fialta, and Lance based on his mountaineering son Some of his other stories not found in this edition are also worth tracking down Beneficence, Details of a Sunset, the Thunderstorm.


About the Author: Vladimir Nabokov

Russian.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 frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels Pale Fire 1962 was ranked 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory 1951 , was listed eighth on the publisher s list of the 20th century s greatest nonfiction He was also a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times.


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