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"When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntary sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!" - VN, TT
Like almost every one of Nabokov's novels/novellas I've read so far, 'Transparent Things' has moments of absolute and immortal genius. I feel too there exists layers and ghosts in those pages that can only be exposed if I were to read TT three of four more times (I love Nabokov, but I'm not ready to prostrate myself that far). Anyway, Nabokov is savage in his sophisticated subtlety. Through Hugh's repeated trips to Switzerland, Nabokov guides the reader deeper and deeper (but never straight) into the distorted mind, madness and memory of Hugh Person. It is a novel that deals with the phantoms and as Nabokov himself called it, the "ooze of the past" and the "tangle of random destinies".
I loved TT, but still didn't always like it. Nabokov's own opus keeps me from giving this more than four stars. But trust me each of those four stars are transparent and brilliant.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
If you've never read anything by Nabokov then this probably isn't the first book you should get, but it's a very nice, very short novel. You get the feeling that it could just as easily have been a short story. As always with Nabokov, the writing is exquisite. I also found the plot and the main character quite touching.
There is one point I hope might help some readers: For some reason, the general view among reviewers of this novel seems to be that the riddle in it (Nabokov has to have a riddle...) is very hard to figure out and that the book leaves the reader utterly bewildered. Maybe I was lucky, maybe the novel is easier to understand today than when it first appeared, in any case I found the "mystery" element pretty clear as such things go. It was nothing so complex as, say "Pale Fire". My point is, don't let the supposed difficulty of the book deter you from a rewarding listen.
As for the narrator, he does a flawless job. He has the right voice, the right intonation, everything sounds just as it should. He does mispronounce a French word or two, but those really are minor nitpicks.
In short: an excellent minor work from a wonderful author.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful