Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

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Overview

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.

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Overview

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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679725220
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/1990
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 120,952
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

One of the twentieth century’s master prose stylists, Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg in 1899. He studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, where he launched a brilliant literary career. In 1940 he moved to the United States, and achieved renown as a novelist, poet, critic and translator. He taught literature at Wellesley, Stanford, Cornell, and Harvard. In 1961 he moved to Montreux, Switzerland, where he died in 1977.

Biography

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins.

The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri.

Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses -- the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions -- which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Vladimir Sirin
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 23, 1899
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      July 2, 1977
    2. Place of Death:
      Montreux, Switzerland

Customer Reviews

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Almost too challenging, but consistently enchanting

    Ada is likely Nabokov's most difficult book. Every sentence contains some sort of obscure reference, bilingual pun, or tongue twister. What there is to understanding is beautiful beyond words, as Nabokov's prose conjures imagery of some fantastical Wonderland that you adore spending your time in. I don't believe it is a perfect book, thought it may be a perfect Nabokov book. As the author believed in texture and not text, the book is all texture with almost no text. To explain: details aplenty but little in the way of plot or a forward moving narrative. But you cannot fault an author for his personal style.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    A complex and visceral love story

    By turns creepy, depraved, and heartbreakingly beautiful, Ada is a first-person account of lifelong love. It's also a story of mental illness, incest, tragedy, and family disintegration. Nabokov's richest, most Shakespearean writing is on display here, and the depth of emotional complexity is devastating. The whole novel aches with layered meanings and ambiguities of feeling and implication. It is like remembering the summers of childhood.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2001

    A Real Feeling Of Love From A One And Only Writer.

    Nabokov's 'Ada' Simply has become one of my favorite Books that i have ever read. The first part of the book is a incredible fairytale which recalls 'Alice In Wonderland' --the Humor is rampant and Candid and the feeling of the joy which Nabokov Must of had while writing the book is entirely evident.. Anybody whom says that this book is not Good -- Muat Be Kidding ! it is amazing what Nabokov Could Do with the English Language.. An Essential Work throughout.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 26, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2000

    My favourite book...

    This is a wonderful chronicle of love and passion. I was challenged by Nabokov's literary style and entertained by his creative use of puns and intermingling expressions of the three languages that he commanded so well. The story itself is edgy, romantic, and intriguing. I was captivated by every sentence.

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