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Description

Self-satisfied, delighting in the many fascinating quirks of his own personality, Hermann Hermann is perhaps not to be taken too seriously. But then a chance meeting with a man he believes to be his double reveals a frightening 'split' in Hermann's nature. With shattering immediacy, Nabokov takes us into a deranged world, one full of an impudent, startling humour, dominated by the egotistical and scornful figure of a murderer who thinks himself an artist.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 14mm | 181.44g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 014118454X
  • 9780141184548
  • 94,189

About Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov was born in 1899 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. He died in 1977.

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Review Text

Despair is one of Nabokov's Russian language novels now appearing here thirty years after At was written in the Germany of the '30's - of which The Gift has been isolated by many critics as the connoisseur's choice. This perhaps as a story per se will make a stronger appeal to the general reader, even though it lacks the brilliant imaginative effects of which Nabokov is capable, or even the architectural perfection of The Defense. It's the story of a man who plans and executes his own murder - and once again obsession is as engrained here as it is in many of his stronger books. Hermann is, when first self-introduced, an inspired liar, aimless to begin with, addictive as he proceeds. He is also a dilettante perfectionist with pretensions of genius which he will achieve through his crime or perhaps its account thereof, this story. In "silly" stage asides, droll fatuities, wordplay, he records his meeting with the man who As his exact likeness and whom he eventually will kill. He gets rid of the artist, his "bird-witted" wife Lydia's housepet, persuades Lydia and then the victim to go along with him. The despair - that is the supreme irony. But before the story ends on that note, there have been a great many sardonic subtleties along with the interior echoes, vagaries, illusions of a mind precariously poised between reality and disassociation. Occasionally there is a matchless line - "A cloud every now and then palmed the sun which reappeared like a conjurer's coin." But on the whole, the tone As more playful than any of Nabokov's books, classing it as an entertainment. Nonetheless, Nabokov is one of the incomparable storytellers and stylists of our time who may outlive it. (Kirkus Reviews)

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