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Bend Sinister Paperback – April 14, 1990
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Novel by Vladimir Nabokov, published in 1947. It is the second novel the Russian-born author wrote in English. It tells the story of Adam Krug, a philosopher who disregards his country's totalitarian regime until his son David is killed by the forces he has attempted to ignore. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
From the Inside Flap
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. It is first and foremost a compelling narrative about a civilized man and his child caught up 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. In a folly of bureaucratic bungling and ineptitude, the government attempts to co-opt Krug's support in order to validate the new regime.
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This is mainly about a very serious topic which i felt was about losing identity within the confines of federal or state rules as well as the residual effect to loved ones.
Nabokov gets a bad rep for being cruel and perverted which he is a master of in relation to his characters but he really cares about people. I see similarities in the bittersweet relationship i have with life in the way Nabokov seems to understand.
Underneath the foundation to all of his books i have read so far (this is the 8th) i see a man concerned with the rapid movement of the world in a socioeconomic/technological way. I think he felt the human race is moving too fast and away from the mind.
His concern in Bend Sinister is with the changes in each persons lives in relation to state of federal control.
This is basically a knock down argument against free will . This is an advanced philosophy class type of experiment that would be good in a discussion style class. He asks many questions here but an important one involves his son.
This is in a dystopian type of setting where a national socialist type of regime is taking over and rapid changes are taking place. To not give away too much there are gestapo type of groups everywhere policing people who do not completely conform in every way.
The main character does not comply in relation to something (again im being very vague on purpose) therefore his son is taken away.
The argument here is that no matter how neat a nest egg you set up for your family and even if you are financially secure and successful you have limited to no free will in relation to outside factors.
I am a firm believer in no free will. It was hard for me at first to extend the definition of free will to outside factors. I though the argument was if i open a door and walk through i have not the will to control that? Even though i now view myself as a collection of electro/chemical reactions, i still never at first realized that free will can be manipulated at any time.
Nabokov asks are you ever safe from social/political changes? In a time where social networking is causing too much false or pointless info ending in drastic results this book is more important than ever.
I always read in public and am getting more and more strange looks like i am someone from the past. A book! woaaa! I think one of the main fears of Nabokov here is the moving away from academia and time leading to a period of anti intellectual movements.
My one criticism is that for all of his linguistic might, Nabokov may not know the human heart. The story has much to do with Adam and his son. Yet for the most of the book, this relationship is touched upon only superficially. Even a few revealing episodes between father and son could have made this book more powerful. Likewise his deceased wife. He loved her -- but the basis for his love is not clear. A basis for fondness and admiration, yes, but not love.