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The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov Hardcover – October 24, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

These stories, written between the early 1920s to the mid-1950s, reveal the fascinating progress of Nabokov's early development as they remind us that we are in the presence of a magnificent original, a genuine master. Edited by his son and translator, Dmitri Nabokov, this volume is a literary event.

From Publishers Weekly

The exiled Russian master began writing short stories while he was still at Cambridge University and, in his subsequent years of residence in Berlin and Paris during the 1920s and '30s, continued to publish them frequently, writing in Russian, French and, later, English. Most of the 65 stories gathered here appeared in a 1958 Doubleday collection, Nabokov's Dozen, or in three McGraw-Hill volumes in the 1970s, Details of a Sunset, Tyrants Destroyed and A Russian Beauty. The 13 stories appearing between hard covers here for the first time?finely translated, like many of the others, by Nabokov's son Dmitri?break no new ground, although one includes an original ending dropped from its first printing. They are mostly brief: fanciful, often enigmatic sketches of exiles or glimpses of life in old Russia accented by the familiar Nabokovian dexterity and wordplay. They show his brilliant eye for atmospheric color, his ability to catch fleeting shades of mood, but they are also mostly cool to the point of chill. One feels grateful that, in his later American sojourn, he abandoned the story form and began to write the novels and memoirs that made him deservedly famous. For it takes time to become acclimatized to Nabokov's world, to adjust to his peculiar angle of vision, to get comfortable with his rhythms; and to read him in the hasty doses served up by short stories emphasizes his capacity for brilliant inconsequentiality rather than the richness of heart and mind revealed in his longer works.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 659 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 24, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394586158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394586151
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and 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 ficticvbn ral books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 102 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Keep in mind as you read anything that Nabokov wrote that English is this man's second language. Many people only know Vladimir Nabokov as the author of the controversial classic, Lolita. That's a shame. Not to say that Lolita isn't one of the finest books ever written. It is, but the duststorm of strong emotions that the book whipped up created a cloud of obscurity that blurred his many other contributions the history of literature. It lead to many blinded generalities of Nabokov as an "immoral" or "obscene" writer. Those under the mis-guided impression that all Nabokov was about, like so many mediocre artists today, is shock and controversy are in for a shock of an entirely different sort if they read this delicious collection of 65 short stories. His short stories offer conclusive evidence that Nabokov had a gift for storytelling that went far beyond simply lifting the rocks off wet ground and showing us the slimy creatures underneath--he could also show us why those too are beautiful. His collection is edited by his son Dmitri Nabokov who also acted the role of translator, in close collaboration with the man himself, on most of his Russian works. Translations, of course, always offer a delicate problem of who to credit or critisize for particular stylistic choices, but in this family project it's clear that these versions at least received the approval of the author. Beginning writers who stand over-awed and intimidated by the prose master of Nabokov's later, familiar works might find some relief in examples taken from his early stories. They prove that Nabokov was not simply born with the ability to jot down genius, but that his style of storytelling is a craft he worked on and fiddled with for years before he could perfect it.Read more ›
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on January 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although I had read various Nabokov stories over the years I had never done so in a comprehensive manner, and finally decided to do so. I anticipated that this would be a wonderful read, and of course, I was right.

I was well aware as to how gifted Nabokov is with the language; what surprised me is his versatility. It seems like there is nothing he can't do. Contained in this collection is every kind of character imaginable: rich, poor, simple, smart; there is even an entirely credible portrait of a Siamese twin. There is straight drama, fantasy, adventure, horror and intrigue. There are all the elements of what our English teachers told us make good writing: symbolism, allegory, descriptive power, observation, wit, cleverness, heart, and an enormous store of knowledge, performed in a style that can only be described as poetic. And woven through it are the themes that make up the web of humanity: beauty, truth, and love. It is an utterly splendid collection, as good a collection of short stories as any I have ever read.

One of the things that sets him apart is restraint, or perhaps subtlety is a better word. In, "The Reunion," for example, two brothers meet after not seeing each other for ten years. One escaped the Soviet Union and is living a poor, almost wretched existence in Berlin. His brother stayed, and was able to achieve some success as a Soviet functionary. They finally meet each other in the Berliner's shabby apartment. Most authors would not be able to resist the urge to let this to sink into melodrama. There would be arguments, tears, and recriminations. But not for Nabokov.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Erika Borsos VINE VOICE on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Vladimir Nabokov uses words like an artist uses paint on canvas ... you can see, feel, touch, and sense the stories on many levels. He uses words to control images, emotions, and the level of impact on the reader. "The written word" is his media. His stories provide gripping emotions, startling revelations, depths of experience, creative twists and turns of the plot ... leaving the reader flipping pages as fast as the mind can grasp the meaning what is read. Whether Nabokov is describing the deep, dark Russian soul or the generous, warm Russian heart, or mundane everyday experiences and scenes - he is a master psychologist who understands human behavior. While his subjects are primarily Russians or Russian emigres, he confines his writing to a unique time in history, about 75 - 80 years ago. Often, the settings are Russia, Germany, or other parts of Europe. The characters come from all walks of life: the aristocracy, the educated, rich landowners, students, ordinairy workers, shopkeepers, writers, and poor peasants. He sometimes contrasts their persona with a deep dark secret or desire.. He seldom leaves a stone unturned when describing the particular path they trod in life. The stories are so engaging and captivating, the characters, plot, settings are so realistic ... this reader wishes some of the stories would never end. You just know there is something yet remaining ... to reveal.

Favorite stories, are "A Matter of Chance", in which a Russian waiter working in the dining car of a German fast train, narrowly misses meeting his wife whom he has not seen in five years. Ironically, she loses her gold wedding ring, later found by a German waiter. The waiter reads the inscription but makes no connection to his co-worker. The Russian waiter unexpectedly gets off at the next stop.
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