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)
Series: Penguin Classics Ser.
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: June 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0 x 4.0
Weight (kg): 0.43