Laughter in the Dark

Laughter in the Dark


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811216746
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 09/30/2006
Series: New Directions Paperbook Series , #1045
Pages: 308
Sales rank: 1,210,019
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Vladimir 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 anti-Semitism 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 18 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. His most notable works include 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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Laughter in the Dark 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
fL0ssi3 More than 1 year ago
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.
gbill on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I love the opening line to ¿Laughter in the Dark¿, which pretty much sums it up:¿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. This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling; and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain, bound in moss, the abridged version of a man¿s life, detail is always welcome.¿Some of that detail: Albinus ends up completely used by Margot, his young lover. He does ridiculous things, like missing his own daughter¿s funeral. She cheats on him in turn with Rex, who takes full advantage and pushes the limit sadistically. One feels pity for Albinus as he quite literally ends up in the dark, mocked and utterly humiliated; on the other hand, there is a sense of justice in the cuckolding. Quotes:On beauty:¿And alongside of these feeble romances there had been hundreds of girls of whom he had dreamed but whom he had never got to know; they had just slid past him, leaving for a day or two that hopeless sense of loss which makes beauty what it is: a distant lone tree against golden heavens; ripples of light on the inner curve of a bridge; a thing quite impossible to capture.¿I love this playful description of somewhat random items from a wedding:¿They were married in Munich in order to escape the onslaught of their many Berlin acquaintances. The chestnuts were in full bloom. A much treasured cigarette case was lost in a forgotten garden. One of the waiters at the hotel could speak seven languages. Elisabeth proved to have a tender little scar ¿ the result of appendicitis.¿On a reality check in the May-September romance:¿In a passing mirror he saw a pale grave gentleman walking beside a schoolgirl in her Sunday dress. Cautiously, he stroked her smooth arm and the glass drew dim.¿On sex:¿This had been the night of which he had dreamed for years. The very way in which she had drawn her shoulder blades together and purred when he first kissed her downy back had told him that he would get exactly what he wanted, and what he wanted was not the chill of innocence. As in his most reckless visions, everything was permissible; a puritan¿s love, priggish reserve, was less known in this new free world than white bears in Honolulu.Her nudity was as natural as though she had long been wont to run along the shore of his dreams. There had been something delightfully acrobatic about her bed manners. And afterward she would skip out and prance up and down the room, swinging her girlish hips and gnawing at a dry roll left over from supper.¿On settling:¿To Margot¿s credit it must be admitted that she did try her utmost to remain quite faithful to him. But not matter how tender and thoughtful he was in his love-making, she knew, all along, that for her it would always be love minus something, whereas the least touch of her first lover had always been a sample of everything.¿On the shock of discovering an affair:¿He had the obscure sensation of everything¿s being suddenly turned the other way round, so that he had to read it all backward if he wanted to understand. It was a sensation devoid of any pain or astonishment. It was simply something dark and looming, and yet smooth and soundless, coming toward him; and there he stood, in a kind of dreamy, helpless stupor, not even trying to avoid that ghostly impact, as if it were some curious phenomenon which could do him no harm so long as this stupor lasted.¿
Karlus on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Of all Nabokov's varied novels, this one might best be summarized with the single thought, "page-turner." And what a page-turner it is!When a respectably-married and wealthy middle-aged man catches sight of an attractive 16-year-old female usher in a Berlin movie house, all life changes and is no longer the same for anyone. As friends and relatives, crooks and scam artists, bus drivers and acquaintances enter the picture, and plot twists and surprises follow one another on nearly every page, the reader soon finds himself almost breathless trying to keep up with the perfidy that unfolds.In this book, in a different narrative style from many of the author's other novels, the story emerges rapidly and moves right along in short clear sentences. Nabokov allows the point-of-view to shift quickly among the principal characters as we catch them in mid-conversation and hear their thoughts directly in first-person. Soon enough, we know all about the good guys and the bad guys and, in effect, we see all the plot puzzle-pieces face up on the table. When a gun suddenly appears, then the stakes are raised, and it becomes a serious task for the reader to try to foresee the end of the story and how the puzzle will all fit together.Come then, if you wish, and try your hand against the Master Puzzler. Guess the end, if you can -- before he tells you, of course.
WordSzmit More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend Laughter in the Dark as a primer for anyone who wants to get a feel for Nabokov's brilliant work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.