Laughter in the Darkby Vladimir Nabokov
The classic novel from the author of Lolita, brilliantly portraying one man's ruin through love and betrayal."Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster." Thus begins Vladimir Nabokov
The classic novel from the author of Lolita, brilliantly portraying one man's ruin through love and betrayal."Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster." Thus begins Vladimir Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark; this, the author tells us, is the whole storyexcept that he starts from here, with his characteristic dazzling skill and irony, and brilliantly turns a fable into a chilling, original novel of folly and destruction. Amidst a Weimar-era milieu of silent film stars, artists, and aspirants, Nabokov creates a merciless masterpiece as Albinus, an aging critic, falls prey to his own desires, to his teenage mistress, and to Axel Rex, the scheming rival for her affections who finds his greatest joy in the downfall of others.
Published first in Russian as Kamera Obskura in 1932, this book appeared in Nabokov's own English translation six years later. This New Directions edition, based on the text as Nabokov revised it in 1960, features a new introduction by Booker Prize-winner John Banville.
Meet the Author
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), one of the 20th century's greatest writers in both Russian and English, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and spent his adult life in Germany, France, the United States, and Switzerland. In addition to his literary work, he was a passionate lepidopterist and chess player. His books include Lolita, Pale Fire, The Real Light of Sebastian Knight, Laughter in the Dark, and many more.
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fourteen novels including The Book of Evidence, which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.
- Date of Birth:
- April 23, 1899
- Date of Death:
- July 2, 1977
- Place of Birth:
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Place of Death:
- Montreux, Switzerland
- Trinity College, Cambridge, 1922
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this is a perfect precursor to the later Lolita. nabokov's obsession with pairing deadly, bittersweet girls with broken, older men must have begun somewhere around here, and in a way, he does a better job of capturing the hopelessness and sadness of the pairing by aging up his temptress and demonizing her a bit. i read this in about two days, having been unable to put it down, and highly recommend it. one would assume this is all he can write and might see the futility in that, but once his pieces are read all assumptions diminish before the clarity of his truths and the grandeur of the simplest sentences. his characters, with traits repeated, are still refreshing, and while Lolita, in all its sombre moments and dense descriptions, still felt somewhat light, laughter in the darkness is genuinely dark, each character touched by a certain evil, as if all their fingertips were dipped in black ink.
Laughter in the Dark is reminiscent of Lolita and contains the same elements of Lust and the power that it can have over the characters. However, the writing is not as clear as in Lolita and I found at times that I missed something that I did not realize had happened. I found myself re-reading certain parts to make sure I understood what had transpired. For example, at the end of the novel when Albinus is shot; I found at first it seemed he was stabbed by something and I was unsure if it was Margot or someone else. However, Nabokov's prose in this book are just as wonderful.
I highly recommend Laughter in the Dark as a primer for anyone who wants to get a feel for Nabokov's brilliant work.
this is the best nabakov book i've read (i've read 7 of them). a young, starving actress gets in good with a man who can make her dreams of fame come true. he is older, but flattered by this young starlet's attentions and believes them to be genuine. but when he goes blind, he begins to 'see' her for the woman she really is. if this was a movie, i'd cast drew barrymore as the starlet, josh hartnett as her lover, and billy bob thornton as the protagonist.