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Laughter in the Dark 60148th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0811216746
ISBN-10: 0811216748
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 60148th edition (September 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lale Eskicioglu on May 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
"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; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster."

This is the first paragraph of Laughter in the Dark. Nabokov gives us the synopsis, even the end of the book, right at the beginning. Then starts the simple, yet beautiful narration of a lethal obsession. The sad story of a man who can be very reasonable about every aspect of life unless it has got anything to do with his youthful mistress. When it comes to the 18-year-old femme fatale, he is void of all logic and sense, and cruel to those whom he once loved.

It is impossible to give a summary of the book without giving away its twists and turns, and there are quite a few of them. Here is how one of the main characters react to a divergence in the story:

"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."

Nabokov's writing is uncomplicated, sincere and very engrossing. Once started, I couldn't put it down. When I finished the book late last night, I was so shaken that I couldn't go to sleep. I was at once entranced and disturbed by the book. Entranced by Nabokov's ability to sustain the suspense of a story he so shrewdly summarizes at the very beginning. Disturbed by the fact that such obsessions are real and in existence.
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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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Format: Paperback
This is a nasty little gem of a novel written fairly early in Nabokov's career, when he was still writing in Russian. The copy I just read does not indicate who translated it, although I suspect it may have been his brother, who translated many of his earlier works. It also may have been Nabokov himself. Either way it doesn't matter.

It is the story of a well-to-do German, Albinus, with an inheritance, wife, child and sedate, happy life. I am still not clear on what he does; he is apparently some kind of an art critic. He becomes infatuated with the beautiful but deceitful and manipulative Margot, a woman far too young for him. He leaves his wife and child for her, and as time slowly crawls by, loses everything else: his money, his happiness and his health. The young woman is assisted in her deceit by her lover, Rex, who pretends to be the protagonist's friend.

Yes, we've heard this tale before, and will hear it many, many more times, but in the skilled hands of the great Nabokov, all of this is fresh, and very, very original. Rex is an astonishing character; completely, wickedly drawn: "He [Rex] watched with interest the sufferings of Albinus (in his opinion an oaf with simple passions and a solid, too solid, knowledge of painting), who thought, poor man, that he had touched the very depths of human distress; whereas Rex reflected--with a sense of pleasant anticipation--that, far from being the limit, it was merely the first item in the program of a roaring comedy at which he, Rex, had been reserved a place in the stage manager's private box." This little commentary follows shortly after the death of Albinus' only child. Yike! How lusciously, viciously evil!
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