GLORY by Vladimir Nabokov
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A toast to Nabokov! Glory is well-named. As the magician himself says, in one of those familiar forewords no doubt designed to put critics out of business, "it soars to heights of purity and melancholy that I have only attained in the much later Ada." A delightful work, full of eclat, Glory dates from 1930, and seems, along with The Gift, perhaps the most lyrical and bittersweet of the entire set of nine Russian novels which Nabokov and his son have been so exquisitely translating into English over the last decade or so. People complain, of course, that these early performances, dazzling as language-games, are nevertheless slight affairs, mere curtain raisers to the prodigious feats Nabokov accomplished after arrival in America. They are wrong: the more one reads the whole of Nabokov's corpus the more one sees how subtly, and with what intricate designs, one work complements the other. "I like to fold my magic carpet," he says in Speak, Memory, "in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another." So in Glory, the themes we associate with Nabokov -- the romance of emigres, sexual frustration, the nostalgia of youth -- shine again, sorrowfully or blithely, but always adding an illuminating dimension to what went before or what comes after. Here the scene is Berlin or Switzerland or Cambridge during the Twenties, the hero the earnest Martin, the heroine the moody Sonia, surrounded by all those eccentric and endearing Russians displaced by the Revolution. A comedy of manners, full of university days and family life and hard times, of evocations of hopelessly delicate landscapes and little gems of ironic characterizations, ending with the lovelorn Martin's mysterious plunge across the border into the Soviet Union. The prose is cadenced like music, the best moments pop like champagne. Still, an earthiness and durability are there. No "ideas," of course, just echoes and nuances and matchless phrases.
Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
ISBN: 0679727248
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1971


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