Why we think it’s a great listen: Among the great literary achievements of the 20th century, Lolita soars in audio thanks to the incomparable Jeremy Irons, bringing to life Nabokov’s ability to shock and enthrall more than 50 years after publication. Lolita became a cause celebre because of the erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Nabokov's masterpiece owes its stature not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story that is shocking in its beauty and tenderness.
"An Absolutely Gorgeous Audible Experience"
Speak, Memory, first published in 1951 as Conclusive Evidence and then assiduously revised in 1966, is an elegant and rich evocation of Nabokov’s life and times, even as it offers incisive insights into his major works, including Lolita, Pnin, Despair, The Gift, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, and The Luhzin Defense.
"this inspired me to read Nabokov's novels"
A 999 line poem in heroic couplets, divided into 4 cantos, was composed--according to Nabokov's fiction--by John Francis Shade, an obsessively methodical man, during the last 20 days of his life.
From Vladimir Nabokov, the writer who shocked and delighted the world with his novels Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada, or Ardor, comes a magnificent collection of stories. Written between the 1920s and the 1950s, these 68 tales — 14 of which have been translated into English for the first time - display all the shades of Nabokov’s imagination.
"No discernable beginning or end to the stories."
Published two weeks after Vladimir Nabokov’s seventieth birthday, Ada, or Ardor is one of his greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist. It tells a love story troubled by incest, but it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue. Ada, or Ardor is no less than the supreme work of an imagination at white heat. This is the first American edition to include the extensive and ingeniously sardonic appendix by the author, written under the anagrammatic pseudonym Vivian Darkbloom.
"Incest, a game the Whole Family Can Play"
The Gift is the last of the novels Nabokov wrote in his native language and the crowning achievement of that period in his literary career. It is also his ode to Russian literature, evoking the works of Pushkin, Gogol, and others in the course of its narrative: the story of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev, an impoverished émigré poet living in Berlin, who dreams of the book he will someday write - a book very much like The Gift itself.
One of the twentieth century’s master prose stylists, Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg in 1899.
"A complex and rich Künstlerroman"
Extensively revised by Nabokov in 1965 - 30 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. One of the 20th 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.
"Russian emigre candy dandy murderers R my weakness"
Like Kafka's The Castle, Invitation to a Beheading embodies a vision of a bizarre and irrational world. In an unnamed dream country, the young man Cincinnatus C. is condemned to death by beheading for "gnostical turpitude", an imaginary crime that defies definition.
"Nabokov's Strange Violin Playing in the Void"
Nabokov’s third novel, The Luzhin Defense, is a chilling story of obsession and madness. As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive, distracted, withdrawn, sullen — an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates. He takes up chess as a refuge from the anxiety of his everyday life. His talent is prodigious and he rises to the rank of grandmaster — but at a cost: in Luzhin’s obsessive mind, the game of chess gradually supplants reality.
"Life and chess are such lonely battles"
Savagely funny and hauntingly sad, Lolita is Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel. It is the story of tortured college professor Humbert Humbert and his dangerous obsession with honey-skinned schoolgirl Dolores Haze.
New York City is not only The New Yorker magazine's place of origin and its sensibility's life blood, it is the heart of American literary culture. Wonderful Town, an anthology of superb short fiction by many of the magazine's most accomplished contributors, celebrates the 75-year marriage between a preeminent publication and its preeminent context with this collection of 20 of its best stories from (so to speak) home.
"Great stories and readers, but technically sloppy"
Albinus, a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, abandons his wife for a lover half his age: Margot, who wants to become a movie star. When Albinus introduces her to Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. What emerges is an elegantly sardonic and irresistibly ironic novel of desire, deceit, and deception, a curious romance set in the film world of Berlin in the 1930s.
"Death is often the point of life's joke"
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.
"A fantastic fairytale of fascism"
Strazio e incanto, insieme a scintillante ironia, abbondano in Lolita, il romanzo più celebre di Nabokov che racconta la storia dell'ossessiva e fatale passione del professor Humbert Humbert per la "ninfetta" Dolores Haze. Motel dopo motel, la vicenda si snoda lungo le strade americane nella forma di una confessione onesta e disperata. Meraviglioso romanzo, ha ispirato l'omonimo film di Stanley Kubrick.
"Transparent Things revolves around the four visits of the hero - sullen, gawky Hugh Person - to Switzerland.... As a young publisher, Hugh is sent to interview R., falls in love with Armande on the way, wrests her, after multiple humiliations, from a grinning Scandinavian and returns to NY with his bride.... Eight years later - following a murder, a period of madness and a brief imprisonment - Hugh makes a lone sentimental journey to wheedle out his past...." (Martin Amis)
"Moments of absolute and immortal genius"
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, the first novel Nabokov wrote in English, is a tantalizing literary mystery in which a writer’s half brother searches to unravel the enigma of the life of the famous author of Albinos in Black, The Back of the Moon, and Doubtful Asphodel. A characteristically cunning play on identity and deception, the novel concludes “ I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or perhaps we both are someone whom neither of us knows.”
"A dry run at big, complex themes"
Nabokov’s fourth novel, The Eye, is as much a farcical detective story as it is a profoundly refractive tale about the vicissitudes of identities and appearances. Smurov, a lovelorn, excruciatingly self-conscious Russian émigré living in pre-war Berlin, commits suicide after being humiliated by a jealous husband, only to suffer even greater indignities in the afterlife as he searches for proof of his existence among fellow émigrés who are too distracted to pay him any heed.
"Ego vero, ergo sum"
Professor Timofey Pnin ist ein Ritter der traurigen Gestalt. Der Exilrusse lehrt Literatur an einem amerikanischen Provinzcollege und versucht, sich in der neuen Heimat zurechtzufinden. Weder versteht er die Feinheiten der englischen Sprache, noch ist er in der Lage, die gesellschaftlichen Codes des American Way of Life zu entschlüsseln. Überängstlich und zwanghaft, in seiner Tapsigkeit dabei anrührend, taumelt Pnin von einem Missgeschick zum nächsten. Doch trotz aller Demütigungen, die er sich nicht zuletzt selbst beifügt, schafft er es, seine Würde durch alle Widernisse zu retten.
"Its in German"
In a Berlin rooming house filled with an assortment of serio-comic Russian émigrés, Lev Ganin, a vigorous young officer poised between his past and his future, relives his first love affair. His memories of Mary are suffused with the freshness of youth and the idyllic ambience of pre-revolutionary Russia. In stark contrast is the decidedly unappealing boarder living in the room next to Ganin’s, who, he discovers, is Mary’s husband....
"There IS something about Mary!"
The Enchanter is the Ur-Lolita, the precursor to Nabokov’s classic novel. At once hilarious and chilling, it tells the story of an outwardly respectable man and his fatal obsession with certain pubescent girls, whose coltish grace and subconscious coquetry reveal, to his mind, a special bud on the verge of bloom.
"Nabokov's black salad devouring a green rabbit"