April Reading Group Selection: Nabokov’s Despair

despairBook Beat’s Reading Group selection for April is Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair. The Reading Group will meet Wednesday, April 30 at 7pm in the Goldfish Teahouse (117 W 4th St #101, in downtown Royal Oak, MI 48067). Books are discounted 15% at Book Beat. All are welcome!

“a little-known classic of crime fiction and one of the greatest doppelgänger stories ever written.” –Rap Sheet 

Despair, in kinship with the rest of my books, has no social comment to make, no message to bring in its teeth.” -Vladimir Nabokov

“…Nevertheless, this is quite postmodernist: the text is explicitly and carefully cut from any reference to time, space and reality.” —Nabokov’s Despair the Reader as “April’s Fool”

“.. I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.”  -Paris Review

“My mirage is produced in my private desert, an arid but ardent place, with the sign No Caravans Allowed on the trunk of a lone palm. No doubt, good minds exist whose caravans of general ideas lead somewhere — to curious bazaars, to photogenetic temples, but an independent novelist cannot derive much true benefit from tagging along.” —Nabokov on Nabokov & Things, NY Times
 The narrator and protagonist of the story, Hermann Karlovich, a Russian emigre businessman, meets a tramp in the city of Prague, whom he believes to be his doppelganger. Even though Felix, the supposed doppelganger, is seemingly unaware of their resemblance, Hermann insists that their likeness is most striking. 

Extensively revised by Nabokov in 1965–thirty years after its original publication–Despair is the wickedly inventive and richly derisive story of Hermann, a man who undertakes the perfect crime–his own murder.

VLADIMIR NABOKOV studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin. In 1940, he left France for the United States, where he wrote some of his greatest works—Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962)—and translated his earlier Russian novels into English. He taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

Nabokov BBC Documentary:

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