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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A inspiring look at the evolution of a master prose stylist
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...
Published on October 6, 1999

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Depressing as usual for a sort of genre of Russian writiers
Published 3 months ago by Henry B. Gostony


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typically brilliant stories from the literary master, November 25, 1995
By A Customer
This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
Actually, this book came out in October 1995, translated by Dmitri Nabokov (the author's son)and priced at US$35. It's a thick volume of Nabokov's stories, some translated from Russianand others in their naked English. Fans of Nabokov (who is best known for having authored Lolita, which may rank as the best work of fiction ever written in English and is at this moment (11/24/95) being made into yet another movie) have been awaiting these stories for a long time. Reading these stories makes it seem incredible that Nabokov did not receive a Nobel prize for literature while other, lesser authors enjoyed that distinction. Then again, considering the recent recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps it is not such a great distinction after all. In any case, the stories are mostly brilliant and deserve much more fanfare than they have received. "A Dashing Fellow" exemplifies his flashes of genius, precision, and as the title of that story suggests, punniness. Nabokov is a superb linguistic and literary magician, an exemplary storyteller, and at times a teacher. What he teaches best is that both God and the Devil are in the details.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gold Standard for Short Stories, January 3, 2007
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David Engle "Peqoudian" (Port Townsend, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
Put simply, this collection of short stories is a contemporary gold standard for the form. Nabokov's stories are packed with sparkling surprises, playful artifices and languid, confident language. I've put together a 50+ year reading vita and I find myself drawn back to these stories like a moth to flame...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only after the food of the Gods has been sampled the epicurean is born, August 18, 2008
This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
This book is incredible. It contains such mastery that honestly after reading it, I can't read anyone else. Everyone pales in comparison. Once you've tasted ambrosia, when you are kicked out of heaven (at page 642), you might, as I certainly have, come to see all other attempts at literature as somewhat incomplete, lacking, and even tasteless. Only after the food of the Gods has been sampled the epicurean is born. Dimitri's translation is just as good, with nuances you will never find anywhere in the English language. Ho-Ho.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Butterfiles and vampire bats, November 29, 2011
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
About halfway through this collection, you will encounter a story called "Perfection." Read it carefully. It introduces the mature writing of this master craftsman of poetic imagery and what can only be called shimmering, gorgeous nightmares. Nabokov does not build stories or plots. He wills them into existence with a playful murderousness. He examines his creations -- and the processes with which he creates them -- from a variety of perspectives, seemingly holding back nothing, disclosing all, yet finally disclosing nothing but the fact that the story is over and the reader is left with the very real responsiblity to examine his own psyche for signs of damage or inspiration.

One sentence of Nabokov is worth a library of DeLillos or Murakamis...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures The Soul Of Storytelling, February 13, 2011
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
Reading Nabokov is to understand precisely what the art of writing and storytelling should be, but frequently isn't. There is an unparalleled poignancy and flow of imagination to his work that most writers are never able to achieve in a lifetime, yet he pulls it off flawlessly, with nearly every story. There is nothing of this quality being published today.

Nabokov not only had a mastery of language that makes reading him almost like reading poetry, but also a skill in crafting unique plots that often stole my breath upon coming to the end of each. Sometimes heartbreaking, occasionally darkly humorous, practically everything in this book exceeded my expectations and left me in awe of the author's talent. This is as worthwhile a read as I can imagine.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Each one a gem., August 30, 2004
This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
As I read the preceding reviews, I had to smile. Many people gave their favorites. To theirs, I add mine: Beneficence, the story of a man's epiphany while waiting for his faithless mistress. I also liked The Dragon, the story of an unlikely dragon, who awakens for a brief foray into the world he has not seen since the days of chivalry. Do yourself a favor and read this book. You will find at least a few favorites of your own.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who could give Nabokov less than 5 stars?, September 9, 2005
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KH85 (Alaska, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
I'm so glad I stumbled upon the Nabokov section in the bookstore last month. See, I'm a Russian Studies major, and the Nabokov class is being offered this quarter. I'm not taking it, but I decided to go check out what this guy was all about. Let me just say --- WOW. This man could really write. It's all like gorgeous poetry. Buy this treasure of a book, with so many beautiful stories in it, and you will not regret your purchase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Nabokov invented Magical Realism, among other things, March 10, 2014
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
This volume of Nabokov's complete stories has been put together by the man's son, who also did most of the translations of the older, Russian ones. Most of these stories were previously published in volumes of 'dozens', except the earliest ones, which are new to the light of day.
I have previously read most, if not all of them in the excellent German edition by Dieter Zimmer with Rowohlt. Coming back to the stories after many years, and in a new, English shape, gives me the same great pleasure that hooked me on Nabokov long ago.
(Long ago I made the frivolous pledge to learn Russian at age 60, so that I could read Nabokov and others in the original. Alas.)

I enjoy VN's prose sentence by sentence. The short story was a form that suited him well. While he over-constructed at times in his longer works (think of Ada!), few of the short stories deserve any blame. They are perfect. The time span of their writing is 1921 to 1958, if I am not mistaken. The very first story is a gem of the genre: a forest ghost, a wood-sprite, presumably something like a leprechaun, tells our narrator, a student in English exile, late at night, how he ran from the Bolshevist revolution... Don't even think of assuming that hints at Poe's Raven are accidental. Even Lolita is essentially a Poe reference.

The stories have many subjects, but many are in some way related to the experience of exile. Even when they go back to memories of the old days, the political context is always there, under the surface. Example: 'Sounds' deals with a nostalgic memory of an adulterous summer love. Our narrator addresses his lover, a married neighbor, as if he were telling her the story how all was perfect until it broke. If you are an inattentive reader, you might even miss the reason. World War 1 has started (we get just one hint at this, when she asks him, while she reads the newspaper: where is Sarajewo? The also present schoolmaster says: in Serbia.)
In consequence of the unspoken, her officer husband sends her a message that he must come home earlier because plans have changed...

Teju Cole just said in a New York Times interview, that the novel is much overrated as a literary form. Right he is.
Short stories never get better than this.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Groaning Smorgasbord, March 16, 2014
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
There is undeniable value in having the complete stories of Vladimir Nabokov collected in one volume, but there are far too many to be tasted, let alone digested, in a few days. This is a book to be sampled, then set aside for something else, then sampled again.

This collection contains all the stories previously published in NABOKOV'S DOZEN and the three volumes that followed it, a round dozen in each. To these about have been added about enough for a further volume, making 68 stories in all. One thing that surprised me (not being a Nabokov scholar) is that the stories do not evenly cover the writer's career. Roughly half his novels were written in English, but the great majority of the stories, though published in his American period, are translations from earlier works in Russian, mostly by his son Dmitri, who also edits this volume. There is comparatively little, for instance, that matches his extraordinary vision of America as seen in LOLITA. Mostly they deal with the rootless lives of émigrés in the twenties and thirties, or memories of pre-revolutionary Russia. All are well-written; that goes without saying; quite a few are politically incisive. But having sampled about a quarter of the stories in the book, selecting from all periods, I have to say I have been left with an almost physical depression. I am sure I will return to read others, but I have no desire to do so soon.

Still, let me give some examples of things that I did enjoy. There is "Music," in which a man with no ear for music goes to a salon recital, and sees his ex-wife there, the music providing a capsule of suspended time in which he can ponder their changed relations. "Mademoiselle O" is essentially a memoir of his privileged childhood and the triple-chinned French-Swiss governess who stayed with them for seven years; a hitherto unpublished story, "Easter Rain," is a sad extension of the governess character into old age, treasuring memories of Russia that nobody will share.

One interesting thing about the governess story is its metafictional frame. Nabokov enters the memoir mode as giving back their life to real characters that he had pilfered for his fiction. This theme occurs again in "Recruiting." An impoverished elderly émigré attends a Russian funeral in Berlin, then sits on a bench in a public park. A man comes to sit next to him, who turns out to be the author, who has "recruited" this old man (who may not even be Russian at all) as a character in his fiction. A similar trick is also seen in "Terra Incognita," whose narrator, a butterfly hunter in the remote tropics, is feverish with malaria. But it is not clear whether he is hallucinating about his living room in the jungle, or if the whole jungle sequence is an hallucination from some illness he suffers at home.

Perhaps the most striking story I read was "The Vane Sisters." It begins with a description of thaw in a New England college town, wonderfully detailed even in its depiction of garbage cans in the alleys between clapboard houses:

"I remarked for the first time the humble fluting -- last echoes of grooves on the shafts of columns -- ornamenting a garbage can, and I also saw the rippling upon its lid -- circles diverging from a fantastically ancient center. Erect, dark-headed shapes of dead snow (left by the blades of a bulldozer last Friday) were lined up like rudimentary penguins along the curbs, above the brilliant vibration of live gutters."

The story goes on to contain one of the most brilliant suicide notes on record, then segues to an account of the narrator's old relationship with the suicide's sister, abandoned by him when he could no longer keep up with her interest in spiritualism and the occult. And so the story ends -- or does it? For the final paragraph, another piece of colorful description, is in fact an acrostic, the first letters of its words spelling out a message from beyond the grave that ties back to that opening description and mocks the narrator's skepticism. I did not notice this myself -- few people would -- but had to have it pointed out to me. But I am not in bad company; apparently the New Yorker also rejected the story until Nabokov wrote to the editor explaining the trick. The whole story has become emblematic for me: brilliant writing, even more brilliant cleverness, but also self-regarding -- the story as art rather than story as simply story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great account of the Russian diaspora after 1918., July 3, 2014
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This review is from: The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback)
Wide variety of short stories. Always surprizing and well observed.
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The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov
The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov by Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback - December 9, 1996)
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