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Ada Or Ardor: a Family Chronicle :  a Family Chronicle - Vladimir Nabokov

Ada Or Ardor: a Family Chronicle

a Family Chronicle

Paperback

Published: June 2000
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Written in mischievous and magically flowing prose, Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle ranks as Nabokov's other great love story, with some of Lolita's perversity and much, much more of its master's playfulness. A romance that follows Ada from her first childhood meeting with Van on his uncle's country estate, in a 'dream-bright' America, through eighty years of rapture, Nabokov's 'longest, richest, most ambitious novel' also becomes, as Brian Boyd says, a great many other things: 'myth, fairy tale, utopian idyll, family chronicle, personal memoir, historical romance, erotic catalogue... picture gallery and filmic folly'.

This begins as a parody of the Russian novel and ends as a review of itself. The 500-odd pages in between chart the fortunes of Adelaida (Ada) and Ivan (Van), two incestuous lovers who are really Nabokov's excuse for a last grand stylistic firework show before his death seven years later. I was introduced to it by quotation - 'The toot-toot of the two-two to Toulose' being offered as the most untranslatable line conceivable. Some time later, I decided to search for Nabokov's untranslatable train. Quel horaire! There is no 'two-two to Toulouse', although there is a 'two-to-two', of which Nabokov, who knew everything, must have been aware. His decision to excise that surplus 'to' is answer enough to those who would charge this novel with an excess bordering on self-parody. Review by LAWRENCE NORFOLK, author of The Pope's Rhinoceros (Kirkus UK)

ISBN: 9780141181875
ISBN-10: 0141181877
Series: Penguin Classics Ser.
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: June 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8  x 4.0
Weight (kg): 19.8

Vladimir Nabokov

Born in St. Petersburg in 1899, Vladimir Nabokov was the eldest son of an aristocratic and culturally educated family. Russian, French and English were spoken in the Nabokov household and as a child, Nabokov read authors such as Poe, Melville and Flaubert. Following the Bolshevik revolution, the Nabokovs moved to London before settling in Berlin. Nabokov stayed in England to study at Trinity College Cambridge where he completed his studies. He was married to his wife Vera in 1925. In the first twenty years of writing, Nabokov's writings were in Russian and it was not until later that his works were translated; many by his son Dimitri . In 1940 he moved with his wife and son to America where he lectured at Wellesley College from 1941 to 1948 before filling the post of professor of Russian literature at Cornell until 1959. His first novel written in English was The Real Life of Sebastian Knight written in 1941. Nabokov is arguably most famous for his 1955 novel Lolita. As well as writing novels, Nabokov wrote works of non-fiction; notably on Nikolai Gogol (1944) and Eugene Onegin (1964).

In an interview with Alfred Appel, Nabokov stated that 'the writer's art is his real passport and not his nationality' and that he was 'an American writer who has once been a Russian.' This reflects Nabokov as a writer of great linguistic flexibility and suggests that the early influence of foreign literature perpetuated throughout his life, giving him the tools to portray ideas in different languages. The ideas are the speakers in his work, not the language. This ability to disorganise space is also reflected in Nabokov's own compositional style where he purports in his early years as a writer to have constructed paragraphs in his mind to be re-written later and, later on in his career, to write sections on note cards to be later re-arranged and re-written; the final work appearing as a sequence of mental spaces materialised on paper.

Writers such as Martin Amis and Brian Boyd have positioned Nabokov as one of the greatest writers of the century. Amis has commented that 'to read him in full flight is to experience stimulation that is at once intellectual, imaginative and aesthetic, the nearest thing to pure sensual pleasure that prose can offer.'

Visit Vladimir Nabokov's Booktopia Author Page