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Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle Paperback – Unabridged, February 19, 1990
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From the Inside Flap
This is the first American edition to include the extensive and ingeniously sardonic appendix by the author, written under the anagrammatic pseudonym Vivian Darkbloom.
About the Author
The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri.
Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses--the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions--which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.
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Top Customer Reviews
This set-up allows Nabokov as wide a scope as possible to dig into his own memories and also for prose excursions into uncharted territory. "Ada" is certainly his most comprehensive and difficult novel, and definitely his greatest after "Lolita" ("Pale Fire" die-hards can disagree all they want, but they probably haven't taken the time to delve deep enough into "Ada").
"Ada" is also Nabokov's own twist on Proustian memory investigations. It is being written as `memoirs' by his main character: Van Veen, but also includes certain intrusions by Ada Veen, who is with him as he's writing it (during the time they spend their old age together after years of separation). So, often, especially in the first third or so of the book, two perspectives of the past are provided. Two memories remember certain things they both experienced or saw, each from its special perspective, and sometimes one adds things the other may have forgotten. Towards the end of the book, Nabokov uses Van's slightly demented but deeply observant writings about the nature of Time to capsulize the thought processes that made Van write these memoirs in this `odd' way.
The main event in Van's memoirs is his secret incestuous relationship with Ada, who is his half-sister. Van is in love with Ada who loves him back and their love affair affects the whole course of their lives.Read more ›
That fateful year of 1884 provides the novel with its chief building block. Our narrator spent that summer, his 15th, at his aunt's summer house, Ardis, where he and his 12 year old cousin Ada Veen ended up falling in love with the mad insatiable passion that is typical for teenagers. Shortly after falling in love, though, the pair learns that due to a much more complex family tree than either initially realized, they are actually brother and sister casting a tragic shadow over their intoxicating relationship.
These facts are presented to us, although obscurely, within the first 30 pages of the 589 page book, so don't think that I have just given away any key plot points here. In fact, this novel is all about Van and Ada's refusal (or inability) to ever grow out of their idyllic, though incestuous, summertime romance. The summer of 1884 grows to haunt the rest of their lives, and this book for the most part is the story of that haunting.
The story is remarkable and for those who end up getting emotionally involved in the story, it is the type of novel that will seep into your soul unlike just about any book you may ever read. Unfortunately, a highly complex writing style is likely to act a a very major hurdle that will prevent a lot of people from ever getting through the book.Read more ›
Ada is surreal and hyperreal...it's like some places which you can inhabit for decades and just keep discovering new beauties, new perils, new complexities in your ongoing contemplation. I don't think it is better than Lolita or Pale Fire, but it's more pleasurable; Lolita is replete with moral outrages, and with monstrousness that has horrible, fully-played-out consequences, and Pale Fire is a bottomless well of sadness and believable grief. (Pale Fire is one of the few books that ever did/still do make me cry.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969) reads like an extended stab at duplicating author Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous work. Read morePublished 3 months ago by M. Buzalka
This masterwork towers above the towering. Like the perpetually-misunderstood "Lolita," it appears to be a simple raunchy novel told in flashback form, but as it... Read morePublished 3 months ago by T. Cue.
The only cure for my heartache in autumn. The only balm for a lonely mind. Ada is my solace, my standard, my humbly proffered plea before the final hosts of heaven that... Read morePublished 3 months ago by SushiRules
my favorite book, reading it over and over for forty years - inexhaustible.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I DO NOT LIKE THIS NEW THING OF THE DROP DOWN BOXES FOR DESCRIPTIONS OF BOOKS. IT IS TERRIBLE. I had to pick the 4 categories and for a complex book, they are not correct. Read morePublished 9 months ago by #999,999,999+1(me)
This is a great work of literature. Nabokov writes about an incestous love between siblings. Don't be annoyed when he writes in a foreign language and doesn't translate the... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's a little hard to follow since i don't have the background to understand a lot of the references.Published 11 months ago by April