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The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov Paperback – December 9, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Eleven of the 65 short stories by the exiled Russian master see their English-language debut here.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st American ed edition (December 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679729976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679729976
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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