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How ironic, that I write a five paragraph review of 'Look at the Harlequins!' and with a careless sideways swipe of my too smooth mouse lose it all. Now I have to climb out of a self-made despair and mentally turn around and try and recreate the review I JUST wrote. So a warning, this review might contain a few similarities to my real/original review, but any thing I say, any words I now write will just be shadows and mouches volantes of my first try.
Nabokov's false memoir is loose, brazen and genius all at the same time. It is a false 'Speak, Memory', a greedy parody and doppelgängers of his own past. Vladimir, through Vadim, shows us how impossible it is to stop, turn around and recreate, or recapture the past. Even setting the past down on paper is no good. It is all fleeting whispers and harlequins.
Reading this novel, I was taken suddenly with the thought (almost certainly not original) that Nabokov's obsession with doubles, refractions, twins and doppelgängers comes from the split with him. There exists with Nabokov the Russian гений (Despair, the Gift, King, Queen, Knave) and the English genius (Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada). That ability to exist at such a high level in two different literary worlds is beyond simply amazing. Nabokov wasn't just dancing on a spinning chessboard. He was all the chessmen on both the black and the white side of the board.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
what can i say? I love Nabokov. he is the most intelligent writer and always experimenting with style and form. this one may be a little more for his devotees with references to his other works abounding. not a huge fan of Rudnicki, though he does the Russian words and other foreign words/phrases well, his voice gets a bit ponderous.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful