The first novel Nabokov wrote while living in America, and the most overtly political novel he ever wrote, Bend Sinister is a modern classic. While it is filled with veiled puns and characteristically delightful wordplay, it is, first and foremost, a haunting and compelling narrative about a civilized man caught in the tyranny of a police state.
Professor Adam Krug, the country's foremost philosopher, offers the only hope of resistance to Paduk, dictator and leader of the Party of the Average Man. In a folly of bureaucratic bungling and ineptitude, the government attempts to co-opt Krug's support in order to validate the new regime.
©1947 Vladimir Nabokov (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Moving and powerful... Nabokov writes with urbanity, humor and high drama." (The New York Times)
Excellent book. Much more meaningful to me than Pale Fire, which was far more abstract.
I liked the warning to all of us who live in democratic countries about a demagogue coming along (Paduk and the Party of the Average Man) since most voters in all democratic countries are fools.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
I listened to the marvelous Audible production narrated by Robert Blumenfeld.
This is the third Nabokov book I've "read" and further elevates my appreciation of his intellect, imagination, and wry wit. He is the best surrealist I know of. His writing puts me in a great mood even while describing tragedies. Its twists and subtle perversions lead the me down odd alleys. His descriptions of the absurdity of everyday life as being so prevalent permeate my imagination in such a way that I almost became physically ill when removing the headphones and having insipid pop blaring from the public address illustrate his point.
His characters are easy to see. You follow them down slippery slopes to absurdity and, with them, wonder how you got there. Perhaps you see the not too subtle mole, but you don't see the absurd dance she'll perform.
This book was less absurd than Invitation to a Beheading but more than Lolita.
The first half seemed to be a universal tale of a person dealing with the dislocation of a personal loss trying to get his feet under himself while his community was going through a political spasm. Like Invitation, it portrayed society's inability to accept thinkers who don't conform and reform to the latest zeitgeist. Adam, the hero, didn't fully appreciate societal anti-bodies for nonconformists and presumed that his stature would protect him from the temporary tempest. Unlike Invitation, the hero had more at stake and more to value than himself. His weakness was not understanding that vulnerability until too late.
The second half appears to be an anti-Stalin tale and thus loses some of the first half's universalism. Nabokov wants us to know how absurd and little Stalin is. It's great writing with wondrous allegories, but I wanted to retain the first half's universalism.
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