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Laughter in the Dark Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0811216746 ISBN-10: 0811216748

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (September 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216746
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Nabokov writes in a most enjoyable fashion.
John Becker
I read it start to finish in one less than one evening.
J. Robinson
This book is a tragic story of betrayal and deception.
Brian Hull

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Robinson on October 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
This present novel is more concise and less rambling than "Lolita."

I have read some of Nabokov's other books including some of his non-fiction and of course I read "Lolita." This is probably one of his better works.

Nabokov was a devout student of literature as well as a writer. As most know, he became a professor at Cornell in later years. This is an earlier novel from 1932 published in Russian as Kamera Obskura in 1932, then translated by Nabokov to English in 1938, and then again updated by him in 1960.

This is a great novel. It is clear and concise; it is well balanced like his own idea of the perfect novel, "Madame Bovary." In short, it is an entertaining and a compelling read. I read it start to finish in one less than one evening. He has approximately ten characters in the story with about five important characters including the two main protagonists. He keeps the story simple but interesting. The story is brilliantly conceived and told.

I will not give away the plot, but it is set in Berlin after World War I, then it moves on to the Riviera and Switzerland.

As noted on page 1: "Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress.." Knowing that does not ruin the story and that is all you should know for now. Skip all the other comments until you read the novel.

The story unfolds with few clues about what will take place. Most important questions in our minds are left unresolved until the end. Most will sympathise with the slightly naïve Albinus, and as myself, most will become fully immersed in the story.

This is a great novel that I highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Sollami on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Just when one has reached the age of relative comfort and has accepted life's compromises with one's youthful and unearthly dreams and yearnings, along comes a great big delusion. In the case of Albinus, the struggle to resist this phantom called beauty didn't last long. He collapsed at its feet, as if it completed him and immortalized him. Utterly blind to its ruthless demands and sad, greedy realities, Albinus let beauty, embodied in the supple Margot Peters, bring down every bit of his integrity until he became, literally, a pathetic, helpless supplicant at her feet. This theme has recently been reprised in the award-winning movie, "American Beauty."

What I find interesting in this classically simple and beautifully executed novel is the underlying theme of our relationship to art and beauty. Does beauty make fools of us all, even the most intelligent among us who, one would think, should know better? Or are those people the most vulnerable of all, as they see all the way to the depths of beauty and art and lose themselves in their mystery? In contrast, hardened cynics and inherently nasty people, as epitomized in the character Axel Rex, take their due of life's sweets and laugh at the foolishness of those mere mortals who somehow try to capture and control them. They are nothing to be preserved, but are merely wild and fleeting, like a summer day or a rare butterfly fluttering through the dahlias. Yet it is all too human to quake and tremble and collapse when sensual delight finds its way into one's life. This is the story of such a disaster and the evil it releases.

Let's also leave "Lolita" on the shelf when reading this work. This one came first. It should be appreciated in its own right. Comparisons are for literature professors. Discrete enjoyment is for readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Becker on February 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is a story we have all heard before; man leaves his wife for something better, fate comes back and bites him in the butt. However, in Vladimir Nabokov's "Laughter in the Dark," readers are presented with a wonderfully simple yet horribly dark rendition of this common tale. We are told the entire story in the first two sentences of the novel, but Nabokov finds a way to weave readers through his tale through the use of very real dialogue and clever narration.

It must be said that, to an extent, Nabokov's novel is predictable. To me, this enhanced the reading however because I never found myself struggling to figure out what was going on. I was able to focus more on the genius of the author's simple writing style. He has worked his language in a way that I have never before seen, and has thrown in a few unforgettable lines that I found myself reading over again out of pure enjoyment: "A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish-but there was no diamond inside. That's what I like about coincidence."

"Laughter in the Dark" is perfection. Nabokov writes in a most enjoyable fashion. It is easy enough to read in one sitting, yet strong enough to have the reader stop and think about it when they finish. I find myself wanting to read it over again in order to fully take in Nabokov's masterpiece, writing style and plot included. Nothing can or should be changed about this book. Its simplicity is a refreshing break from the norm, its plot is perfectly predictable, and its ending is pure genius.
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