Ada or Ardor
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Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle

By (author) Vladimir Nabokov

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Written in mischievous and magically flowing prose, "Ada or Ardor" is a romance that follows Ada from her first childhood meeting with Van Veen on his uncle's country estate, in a 'dream-bright' America, through eighty years of rapture, as they cross continents, are continually parted and reunited, come to learn the strange truth about their singular relationship and, decades later, put their extraordinary experiences into words.

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  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 38mm | 459.99g
  • 01 May 2010
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London
  • English
  • 0141181877
  • 9780141181875
  • 30,632

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Author Information

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was born in St Petersburg. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence as a masterly prose stylist for the novels he composed in English, most famously, Lolita. Between 1923 and 1940 he published novels, short stories, plays, poems and translations in the Russian language and established himself as one of the most outstanding Russian emigre writers.

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Review text

This begins as a parody of the Russian novel and ends as a review of itself. The 500-odd pages in between chart the fortunes of Adelaida (Ada) and Ivan (Van), two incestuous lovers who are really Nabokov's excuse for a last grand stylistic firework show before his death seven years later. I was introduced to it by quotation - 'The toot-toot of the two-two to Toulose' being offered as the most untranslatable line conceivable. Some time later, I decided to search for Nabokov's untranslatable train. Quel horaire! There is no 'two-two to Toulouse', although there is a 'two-to-two', of which Nabokov, who knew everything, must have been aware. His decision to excise that surplus 'to' is answer enough to those who would charge this novel with an excess bordering on self-parody. Review by LAWRENCE NORFOLK, author of The Pope's Rhinoceros (Kirkus UK)

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Flap copy

Published two weeks after his seventieth birthday, Ada, or Ardor is one of Nabokov's greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist. It tells a love story troubled by incest. But more: it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue. Ada, or Ardor is no less than the supreme work of an imagination at white heat. This is the first American edition to include the extensive and ingeniously sardonic appendix by the author, written under the anagrammatic pseudonym Vivian Darkbloom.

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