Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

by Vladimir Nabokov


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679725220
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/01/1990
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 360,079
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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.

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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Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
edvardjr More than 1 year ago
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.
Daniel McCormick More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
yarb on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Nabokov the linguist goes beserk here, revelling in a lifetime's dictionary-gleanings, dispensing quips like a croupier dealing cards. The literary parody is very funny, and the other-earth idea perfectly-conceived, but at the heart of this novel is a frigid disdain for the characters, a constipation of emotion. Nabokov the author seems bored.
Clockwork82736 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I was very disappointed in ADA. Nabokov is an awesome wordsmith, but his cleverness gets the better of him in this text. It's a self-indulgant paen to his witty writing style - at the cost of losing the point of the story. I was hoping to find an intricate study on the incestuous relationship between brother and sister...but it was seriously lacking.
TheNinthwave on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The use of language by Nabokov in this book is amazing. This edition has good translations and notes to help you through the Franco Prussian word play that mixes with the English. The genius of this author's understanding of the power of word is fully displayed in this surreal dance.
flashgirl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is my favourite Nabokov, maybe my favourite book. It is lyrical, visual, it tastes like forgotten summers and smells like dust motes hanging in the attic air, this is the great Alternate America novel.
citygirl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It would seem to me blasphemous to review such a book. Ada deserves to be reread throughout a lifetime.
kren250 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
"Family chronicle" of relatives Ada and Van Veen, and their (very) dysfunctional family. Although I thought the writing in this book was absolutely wonderful (note to self: must read more books by Nabokov), I did get bogged down a bit towards the end. Like Lolita, this book does have some unsavory aspects to it, so I would probably tell anyone easily offended to pass on it.
luckycloud on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I learned that Nabokov is a master. That he loves writing about taboo sexually-charged relationships. That he writes more beautifully in his "third-rate" english than most of the rest of us could ever hope for.
Widsith on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Ada or Ardor is Nabokov¿s biggest novel, and in many ways a summation of his linguistic dexterity as well as his literary themes, with all the pleasures and problems those things imply.His writing is a constant astonishment. His admirers are sometimes surprised to remember that it¿s not to everyone¿s tastes. Nabokov¿s sentences are exact, yet often long and complicated; they are utterly stripped of cliché; they are very alert to such pleasures as assonance, alliteration, sesquipedalianism and cross-linguistic puns. At their best they provide a sensuous delight which matches the subject-matter; at other times they offer descriptions which seem so unfamiliar, because so new, that a reader feels almost rebuffed (Clive James, discussing Nabokov¿s over-aversion to familiar phrasing, wrote brilliantly that `passages occur in which we can hardly see for the clarity¿).In Ada or Ardor, most passages are poised somewhere between those two extremes, collapsing either into beauty or awkwardness depending on your mood, or the time of day. On sunset over a lake:The wide lovely lake lay in dreamy serenity, fretted with green undulations, ruffed with blue, patched with glades of lucid smoothness between the ackers¿On playing Scrabble:The bloom streaking Ada¿s arm, the pale blue of the veins in its hollow, the charred-wood odor of her hair shining brownly next to the lampshade¿s parchment (a translucent lakescape with Japanese dragons), scored infinitely more points than those tensed fingers bunched on the pencil stub could ever add up in the past, present or future.On an erection:The tall clock struck an anonymous quarter, and Ada was presently watching, cheek on fist, the impressive, though oddly morose, stirrings, steady clockwise launch, and ponderous upswing of virile revival.One of his favourite tools is the long sentence, laden with subordinate clauses, which looks rambling but which is actually very precise in its descriptions, and frequently very perceptive in what it chooses to describe. The technique is rather Proustian, albeit employed in the service of a very different tone. Here he is on Ada¿s habit of scratching her mosquito bites:The girl¿s pale skin, so excitingly delicate to Van¿s eye, so vulnerable to the beast¿s needle, was, nevertheless, as strong as a stretch of Samarkand satin and withstood all self-flaying attempts whenever Ada, her dark eyes veiled as in the erotic trances Van had already begun to witness during their immoderate kissing, her lips parted, her large teeth lacquered with saliva, scraped with her five fingers the pink mounds caused by the rare insect¿s bite ¿ for it is a rather rare and interesting mosquito (described ¿ not quite simultaneously ¿ by two angry old men ¿ the second was Braun, the Philadelphian dipterist, a much better one than the Boston professor), and rare and rapturous was the sight of my beloved trying to quench the lust of her precious skin, leaving at first pearly, then ruby, stripes along her enchanting leg and briefly attaining a drugged beatitude into which, as into a vacuum, the ferocity of the itch would rush with renewed strength.Heady stuff. You see in that passage also this book¿s propensity to slip from third-person to first-person narration: `Van¿ and the narrator who says `my¿ are one and the same ¿ well, more or less. The authorship is confused and overlayed with multiple fictional `editors¿; and the setting is likewise confused, being a kind of alternate-reality version of our own world, which is superficially similar but whose history and geography differ in certain ways. None of it matters all that much ¿ all Nabokov really cares about, one feels, is that you get a shiver of aesthetic pleasure up your spine when you read his words in the order he uses them.Given that his writing is such a sensuous thing, it¿s natural that it comes into its own when he shifts to the erotic mode. The long, dreamy, pastoral scenes of Ardis, t
lyzadanger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A strange and difficult novel from the linguistic master. So addling and baffling I know that I need to read it again (and perhaps again and again and again).
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.