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Look at the Harlequins! (Vintage International) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 275 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, it appears to be a "fictionalized" autobiography of Nabokov, with some key changes (Nabokov professed to be most content with life, while the same could not be said for LATH's protagonist-cum-"author", Vadim Vadimovich). Thus, one will not get much out of the book unless one has read N's other work and knows a bit about his life.
What make this novel truly enjoyable are (a) N's trademark wordplay (not as great as in "Lolita" and "Ada", but still magnificent); (b) small moments of genuine joy (as in the coy but cute resolution of Vadim's psychological conundrum); and (c) some excellent Nabokovian narrative tricks: Vadim feels he is living someone else's life and at one point appears to be on the verge of realizing that he is, in fact, Vladimir Nabokov (try wrapping your mind around that!)--only to have the epiphany slip away.
LATH should (as another reviewer recommended) be saved for last. Those who do get around to reading it, though, will almost surely enjoy it. I get a kick just thinking of the old guy--pushing 75, but still as vibrant and full of tricks as ever. That he never won a Nobel Prize is an terrible shame.
Obviously, he's not Vladimir Vladimirovich. He's something else. Maybe he is meant to be an inevitable distortion of Nabokov, but even that's questionable, as is everything in Nabokov's fiction.
Here's a thought. Perhaps, as is (almost) evident in Transparent Things, Nabokov eventually became so intrigued by the idea of networks of perspectives in fiction (the perspective of the narrator interacting with that of the reader, and maybe just a tittle of his own), that he couldn't resist the idea of writing a novel from the perspective of a fictional fictional Nabokov.
All fiction can be compared to the reflection of a painting in a puddle. Nabokov teaches us that the aesthetics of the puddle's ripples, manipulated by the right hands, can be as (nay, more!) breathtaking than those of the picture itself.
There are certainly pleasures in the text and flashes of wit, but overall the fictional memoir of a passive cloddish alter ego is a disappointment, a not-very-fun series of games and in-jokes. It seems to me that Vadim understood but cannot implement the title's command. At least he doesn't enjoy those he manages to see as harlequins there to amuse him.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've gathered from incidental references, both the New York Times book review and Adam Robert's blog, that Look at the Harlequins! Read morePublished on February 24, 2010 by Jacob Glicklich
Most of the enjoyment with this book is the discovery of Nabokov's creation. Frankly, I suggest that you skip the reviews here, close your eyes for the moment and simply read the... Read morePublished on February 2, 2008 by Jack Ridley
The only thing Nabokov accomplished here was to induce me to yawn at the head harlequin. HARLEQUINS is an exercise in (no--better make that "an excretion of") self-congratulatory... Read morePublished on October 22, 2004 by Gooch McCracken
Beginning with a list of the author's "other" books, which don't exist outside the distorted mirror world of what Nabakov calls "LATH" (as he acronymically pegs... Read morePublished on November 11, 2002