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The Gift av Vladimir Nabokov
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The Gift (urspr publ 1938; utgåvan 1991)

av Vladimir Nabokov

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,109813,326 (3.9)18
The Giftis the phantasmal autobiography of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdynstev, a writer living in the closed world of Russian intellectuals in Berlin shortly after the First World War. This gorgeous tapestry of literature and butterflies tells the story of Fyodor's pursuits as a writer. Its heroine is not Fyodor's elusive and beloved Zina, however, but Russian prose and poetry themselves.… (mer)
Medlem:HummingLion
Titel:The Gift
Författare:Vladimir Nabokov
Info:Vintage (1991), Paperback, 384 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Gåvan : roman av Vladimir Nabokov (1938)

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62. The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov
Translation: from Russian, by Michael Scammell, with the author, 1963
published: 1937
format: 391-page paperback
acquired: June
read: Nov 25 – Dec 23
time reading: 17 hr 45 min, 2.9 min/page
rating: 4½
locations: Berlin
about the author: 1899 – 1977. Russia born, educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, 1922. Lived in Berlin (1922-1937), Paris, the US (1941-1961) and Montreux, Switzerland (1961-1977).

This is slow, but good stuff. As I work through Nabokov‘s novels, this was easily the weighty-est so far. There is a lot in here, like everything - poetry, Pushkin, Gogol, a complete biography of Chernyshevsky (!), literary commentary, critics, death, love, language, commentary on Nazi Germany - all here. It was also his last Russian language novel.

The novel is about a young Russian émigré author who just published his first book in Germany, a book of Russian poetry that sells a few dozen copies. He works as a language tutor, mostly for Germans learning English, which gives him just enough money, when he's responsible, to rent a room. As our book progresses, he interacts with literary émigrés in Berlin, meets a girl, Zina, who loves his book of poetry and falls for him and helps him write a biography Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky. What? You haven't heard of Chernyshevsky? He was part of the Russia intellectual community in the 1860's, an era of reform in Russian, and when all that great Russian literature was appearing. Chernyshevsky was a proto-Communist, noted by Marx, and highly regarded by Lenin. Despite his caution, he was arrested, given a mock execution and sent to life-long exile in different parts of Siberia. Our protagonist is maybe less than reverential of his subject, making for some curious reading (the entire biography of Chernyshevsky is contained within), and ruffling many features throughout the fictional émigré community. His sales go up.

But this is just the surface. This book itself becomes an introspective look at misunderstood poetry, and at language, a love letter to certain era and mentality in a lost Russia, and a love story - all this with parallels to Nabokov's own life, even if he strongly denies the resemblance in his introduction. The opening chapter, a long musing on poetry, is some work for the reader to hack through. But then he switches to the narrator's lost father, a disconnected obsessive butterfly collector. This is also slow, but beautifully written and rewarding as his admiration pores out. Later the love story makes for simply great reading. Nabokov, in his translation introduction, claims a heavy influence from the Russian greats. He calls one chapter "a surge toward Pushkin", another a "shift to Gogol", and he claims the book's "heroine is not Zina, but Russian Literature." (with a capital 'L').

When one his favorite older émigré acquaintances dies, Nabokov goes uncharacteristically almost spiritual talking about death and life. On death:

"Fear gives birth to sacred awe, sacred awe erects a sacrificial altar, its smoke ascends to the sky, there assumes the shape of wings, and bowing fear addresses a prayer to it. Religion has the same relationship to man‘s heavenly condition that mathematics has to his earthly one: both the one and the other are merely the rules of the game."

And on life:

"...the unfortunate image of a “road” to which the human mind has become accustomed (life is a kind of journey) is a stupid allusion: we are not going anywhere, we are sitting at home. The other world surrounds us always and is not at all at the end of some pilgrimage. In our earthly house, windows are replaced by mirrors; the door, until a given time, is closed; but air comes through the cracks."

This book mostly closes the chapter on Nabokov's Russian literary output, and it seems to know that, as it practically seems to take everything he neglected to put into his previous novels and collect it all in place here, a document of writer's life to this point (if not his protagonist's). Highly recommended for Nabokov enthusiasts, but for others I can only recommend this to the brave and those willing to hack through the slow stuff to find the beauty within. But it really does reward. I enjoyed this.

2020
https://www.librarything.com/topic/322920#7356522 ( )
1 rösta dchaikin | Dec 27, 2020 |
My goodness-gracious, this book is one hell of a monster.

It is the ultimate Russian nesting doll of and about art, memory, satire, and "Art". If I wasn't already a huge fan of Nabokov, I probably would have thrown this book across the room.

Nabokov wrote this novel as a tribute to his native language and is the last, and undeniably brilliant, of that period. It is a prime example of a supremely self-satisfied intellectual engorgement. Beautiful turns of phrase, rich and belligerent in its knowledge of the Russian Greats, it waves itself under the noses of anyone who might dare to understand it.

Look. I know my fair share of the greats of Russian Literature, but aside from my Dostoyevski, I'm like a babe in the woods against my Pushkin and Gogol. Coming up against The Gift makes me flail like a flensed man hung from a gibbet. Or like the remaining skin of a man. In Siberia. If I wasn't a dedicated fan of the writer and his gorgeous prose, the brilliant structure, the way he nested his prose within prose within prose and went ALL META on me in a way that made my head spin, I probably would have cut off his self-satisfied intellectual engorgement and thrown it out the window of a moving car.

I both loved and hated this book. I wanted to DNF it because I couldn't follow so much of it. I didn't know enough of any of the poets of the period, let alone a sufficient number of the greats, to know whether Nabokov was MAKING THEM UP OUT OF WHOLE CLOTH a-la [b:Possession|41219|Possession|A.S. Byatt|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1391124124s/41219.jpg|2246190]. I guess I could look it up, but frankly, I'm happy I'm done and I want to move on. :)

It's definitely going to be right up your alley if you A: love Russian literature, B: love to hear about writers crafting their magnum opuses, C: are tolerant of monstrous egotists. :)
( )
1 rösta bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This was brilliant, funny, and magical. I was lost in chapter 4 and had to look up Chernyshevski but still most went over my head because I'm not familiar enough with Russian history and literature. The second chapter - Fyodore's imaginings of his fathers travels through Asia were fantastic and the last chapter's twist of fate was a perfect ending. I did not remove the half star because of my failings - it just doesn't compare with Lolita or Pale Fire. ( )
1 rösta Laura1124 | Jun 9, 2019 |
the Nabokov i have struggled with the most so far. at times highly beautiful, but maybe *too* formless for me, or at least for me at this point. ( )
1 rösta haarpsichord | Nov 5, 2018 |
Looking at the cover of the Popular Library (1963) paperback edition of "The Gift" by Vladimir Nabokov, it is difficult to imagine how that cover came to be, in fact it is difficult to imagine that this book could be considered a 'popular'--in the sense of appreciated by the general population--book. The front cover is reminiscent of a "From Here to Eternity" romance, and the quotes on the book are nothing if not cryptic: "a bizarre and special romp", "a powerful kick", "an occasion of delight". What is this book about? If I had to sum it up, I would say it is about creativity, nostalgia, writing.
Is this book worth reading? Absolutely! Is it accessible? I can only tell you my experience. More than 30 years ago I was beginning graduate school in Slavic literature and languages. Before flying to Poland for a summer school program, I spent a few days at a high school friend's garret in New York City. She was renting a room on the top floor of a 6 floor walkup which in actuality was an attic with a working bathtub in the middle of the room (she shared a toilet down the hall with the rest of the tenants on that floor). On one side of the attic were piles and piles of paperback books which the owner of the attic (a writer of some sort) stored there. These books looked like they hadn't been touched in decades, and among them I found this very edition of "the Gift". Thinking I would read it during my stay in Poland, and return it on my way homeward, I filched it from the attic. Throughout that summer I would read snatches of it whenever I had a few free moments. I don't remember whether I finished the novel or not, I just remember not being able to recall anything that happened or anything about the main character--even as I was reading it.
A few weeks ago I glimpsed this same edition in the Library resale book store and it called to me. Oh what a difference 30 years make! What I realize now is that, first of all, this is a novel that demands attention and leisure--no quick sips every now and again, no! it needs to be savored with no interruptions for a minimum of a couple hours at a time. Secondly, I was a complete ignoramus back then--I thought I knew Russian literature and culture, but in actuality I had just barely brushed the surface, and this novel is front and foremost a love poem to and about Russian literary culture as well as a critique of some of Russia's most beloved cultural figures.
The main character is a Russian emigre poet/writer living in Berlin during the 20s. He lives among the squalor and pettiness of the Russian literary refugees. He writes about the lost world of his childhood, he writes about his father--an explorer and searcher of butterflies who never returned from his last expedition, and in a chapter that was excised until the 1950s edition, he writes a biography/evisceration of the literary and social critic/martyr Nikolai Chernyshevsky. In a strange twist of life imitating art, the Russian emigre publishing world was outraged by this biography, as were the emigres in the novel itself. Why was this chapter left out of the original Russian version? Was it salacious? Was it obscene? It was because Nabokov depicted an icon of Russian 19th century social/progressive thought as an untalented, awkward, and frankly, ridiculous figure.
I didn't even mention the language, his analysis of various authors' styles, use of poetic meter, even particular words, are mesmerizing. Oh there is a love story too. The writer falls for a girl in the boarding house where he lives, and this story is the novel that will come into being as you read the book.
If ever a book needed an annotated edition, then this is the one...and it turns out someone has done just that. I found "Keys to the Gift" through interlibrary loan. I can't wait to discover what I've missed. ( )
1 rösta Marse | Jan 7, 2015 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (17 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Vladimir Nabokovprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
夏樹, 池澤Redaktörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
充義, 沼野Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Scammell, MichaelÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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An oak is a tree. A rose is a flower. A deer is an animal. A sparrow is a bird. Russia is our fatherland. Death is inevitable. — P. Smirnovski, A Textbook of Russian Grammar
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One cloudy but luminous day, towards four in the afternoon on April the first, 192- (a foreign critic once remarked that while many novels, most German ones for example, begin with a date, it is only Russian authors who, in keeping with the honesty peculiar to our literature, omit the final digit) a moving van, very long and very yellow, hitched to a tractor that was also yellow, with hypertrophied rear wheels and a shamelessly exposed anatomy, pulled up in front of Number Seven Tannenberg Street, in the west part of Berlin.
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The Giftis the phantasmal autobiography of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdynstev, a writer living in the closed world of Russian intellectuals in Berlin shortly after the First World War. This gorgeous tapestry of literature and butterflies tells the story of Fyodor's pursuits as a writer. Its heroine is not Fyodor's elusive and beloved Zina, however, but Russian prose and poetry themselves.

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Penguin Australia

2 utgåvor av den här boken publicerades av Penguin Australia.

Utgåvor: 0141185872, 014119698X

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