1300 187 187
 
Despair - Vladimir Nabokov

Paperback

Published: January 2001
In Stock. Usually ships in 1-2 business days
RRP $22.95
$14.90
35%
OFF

Extensively revised by Nabokov in 1965 — thirty years after its original publication — Despair is the wickedly inventive and richly derisive story of Hermann, a man who undertakes the perfect crime: his own murder.

“A beautiful mystery plot, not to be revealed.” - Newsweek

One of the twentieth century’s master prose stylists, Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg in 1899. He studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, where he launched a brilliant literary career. In 1940 he moved to the United States, and achieved renown as a novelist, poet, critic, and translator. He taught literature at Wellesley, Stanford, Cornell, and Harvard. In 1961 he moved to Montreux, Switzerland, where he died in 1977.

“Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically.” — John Updike

The protagonist, a neurotic scoundrel, undertakes the perfect crime: his own murder.

About the Author

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was one of the great writers of the twentieth century, as well as a translator and lepidopterist. His works include, from the Russian novels, The Luzhin Defense and The Gift; from the English novels, Lolita, Pnin, Pale Fire and Ada; the autobiographical Speak, Memory; translations of Alice in Wonderland into Russian and Eugene Onegin into English; and lectures on literature. All of the fiction and Speak, Memory are published in Penguin.

Despair is one of Nabokov's Russian language novels now appearing here thirty years after At was written in the Germany of the '30's - of which The Gift has been isolated by many critics as the connoisseur's choice. This perhaps as a story per se will make a stronger appeal to the general reader, even though it lacks the brilliant imaginative effects of which Nabokov is capable, or even the architectural perfection of The Defense. It's the story of a man who plans and executes his own murder - and once again obsession is as engrained here as it is in many of his stronger books. Hermann is, when first self-introduced, an inspired liar, aimless to begin with, addictive as he proceeds. He is also a dilettante perfectionist with pretensions of genius which he will achieve through his crime or perhaps its account thereof, this story. In "silly" stage asides, droll fatuities, wordplay, he records his meeting with the man who As his exact likeness and whom he eventually will kill. He gets rid of the artist, his "bird-witted" wife Lydia's housepet, persuades Lydia and then the victim to go along with him. The despair - that is the supreme irony. But before the story ends on that note, there have been a great many sardonic subtleties along with the interior echoes, vagaries, illusions of a mind precariously poised between reality and disassociation. Occasionally there is a matchless line - "A cloud every now and then palmed the sun which reappeared like a conjurer's coin." But on the whole, the tone As more playful than any of Nabokov's books, classing it as an entertainment. Nonetheless, Nabokov is one of the incomparable storytellers and stylists of our time who may outlive it. (Kirkus Reviews)

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


ISBN: 9780141184548
ISBN-10: 014118454X
Series: Penguin Classics Ser.
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 176
Published: January 2001
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8  x 1.3
Weight (kg): 19.7
Edition Number: 1