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In stark contrast is the decidedly unappealing boarder living in the room next to Ganin’s, who, he discovers, is Mary’s husband, temporarily separated from her by the Revolution but expecting her imminent arrival from Russia.
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By Darwin8u on 12-22-13
There IS something about Mary!
No. I did like this. Really.
Amazing to think Nabokov was starting his journey here. While Nabokov's first novel purports to be about Mary, it is really about memory, nostalgia, that yearning for the past. It is also about anticipation: the exile's return, the lover's arrival, all the emotions of expectancy. 'Mary' centers on émigré Lev Glebovich Ganin. He is trying to separate himself from Lyudmila (a woman he no longer loves or even likes), while waiting for fellow pension dweller, Alfyorov's wife (an early love?) to appear. Yes, Mary is much anticipated. All the while, Ganin basically ignores Klara, the eponymous 'girl next door', who adores him.
This tangle of relationships all takes place in a small setting -- a Berlin pension filled with Russian expats. The setting (almost a closed circle mystery sans mystery) reminded me a bit of Eric Ambler's 'Epitaph for a Spy' in that it all takes place largely among a hotel/pension with various characters interacting.
Anyway, it was good Nabokov ... just not great.
11 of 14 people found this review helpful
By The Flash Fiction Ponder on 01-30-18
Genius can be Developed
I started off with Lolita, and based on that brilliantly written book I decided I wanted to read all of Nabokov's books, so here I am with his first. A pretty good story about nostalgia, but 29 years between the two definitely shows the fact that genius does not always come from some great predetermined power. That it indeed can be developed.