Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: "Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov

From Goodreads:  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.My Thoughts:  I am just going to put it out there...I do not love Nabokov.  I really dislike his writing style and I have not enjoyed any of his books.  I took a class on him in college and we read 6 of his books, Ada, or Ardor was the one we didn't get to and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.  I know he is considered a great writer but I think I am seriously missing something when I read his works.  The story was all over the place and it seemed like everyone was having sex with each other, whether or not they related.  I also didn't like any of the characters, I don't know if that was because of the way the story was written or just because they weren't likable.  In some ways, the story seemed similar to Lolita. Van Veen reminded me of Humbert Humbert and his inappropriate relationships with his family members as well as the constant reference to 'nymphets' just kept making me think of Lolita.

 Reading Ada is like reading one big word game in English, Russian and French.  I know Nabokov enjoys playing with words but it got really annoying after awhile.  Because incest plays a big role in the story, there is this constant 'insect, incest, nicest' word play going on.  There is also a play on the name Ada as 'ad' means hell in Russian and that was constantly being thrown around.  I found it annoying that there were whole passages in French and no translation; I felt like I was missing important information. 

There was one quote in the story that I did love:  "...the human brain can become the best torture house of all of those it has invented, established and used in millions of years...".  I have to give Nabokov credit for such a great quote.  I am personally rating this book 2 stars because I really didn't like it.  This doesn't mean that Nabokov isn't a great writer and that others won't enjoy his works, he just REALLY is not for me.  Honestly, I just don't get him and maybe that makes me stupid but oh well.  I will most definitely not be reading anymore Nabokov after this.  2 stars.

I read this book for the Classics Bribe.  You should check it out!


  1. I read Transparent Things from Nabokov and i liked it. I want to read Lolita. But, you don't like this book. So I'm confused.

  2. Pretty ironic that your fav. quote has the word torture in it:) This reminds me of how I felt reading Crime and Punishment (but I liked that book in the end, even though it was just about a guy thinking about how he'd murdered someone the whole flippin' book). Why do colleges pick out weird required reading assignments?
    I guess we see the "classics" with different eyes. Good review.
    -Jenna @ Fans of Fiction


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