Download The Novels of Vladimir Nabokov by Laurie Clancy (auth.) PDF

By Laurie Clancy (auth.)

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At the end of the novel the reader may well be inclined to ask whether, given the banality and unpleasantness of these characters and the author's obvious lack of interest in them, he should be interested himself. And unlike other of Nabokov's novels, there are not enough compensating qualities besides the narrative and characterisation to sustain him. 3 That way madness lies The Defence The Difence has generally been one of the best received of Nabokov's early novels. 1 The author himself, as usual, has no difficulty in finding laudatory things to say about it - 'Of all my Russian books, The Difence contains and diffuses the greatest "warmth" ...

The flat which Franz takes is near a cinema which is being currently constructed: Martha remarks that she knows 'the man who works for the partner of the director of the cinema company who is building that house there' (p. 52); to which Franz, obligingly anticipating the reader, remarks on the coincidence. Throughout the novel the presence of this cinema is repeatedly mentioned, and gradually assumes greater importance. We are given periodic reports of its progress and told of the films which Martha goes to see, both involving Hess, the famous actor who is killed in one of three car crashes in the book; until eventually it becomes clear that the new cinema is to show a filmed version of a successful play by Goldemar entitled King, Queen, Knave.

Despite the gratuitously repulsive final image of Martha as 'a large white toad', one which recurs repeatedly in Nabokov's fiction as the embodiment of the evil and the ugly (an identification he is sometimes too ready to make), the take-over is almost complete. The world of squalid reality represented by Martha and Franz - Dreyer in part escapes judgement, despite his obtuse self-satisfaction - is r~jected or dismissed. If Dreyer's attempt to escape the bourgeois banalities of that world by his 'inventions' is only very minimally successful, the reader is in some ways more fortunate.

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