A Russian Beauty and Other Stories

by Vladimir Nabokov

Paperback, 1974




McGraw-Hill (1974), Edition: 1st pb ed


Translations of thirteen stories reflect the author's personal and social interests between 1924 and 1940.

User reviews

LibraryThing member clong
I enjoyed this varied collection quite a bit. I rated eleven of the thirteen individual stories as 7s or 8s (out of 10). And aside from the strengths of the stories separately, I was also fascinated by the window offered by many of them into the world of Russian expatriates in Berlin after the
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First World War. The prose was a pleasure to read, although you might want to have a dictionary close to hand when you tackle this book.

The stories offer quite a bit of variety, with simple stories that connect at an emotional level and others that are more complicated and in some cases ambiguous. Often it seems that short stories make little or no effort to build character, but Nobokov gives us intriguing and compelling people even in some of the shortest of these tales.

My favorites were "An Affair of Honor," "A Visit to the Museum," and "Lips to Lips."
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LibraryThing member jburlinson
A somewhat variable collection of stories written during Nabokov's emigre years, published in Russian language publications like Posledniya Novosti, and then re-published in English in such magazines as The New Yorker and Playboy in the '60's & '70's. The weakest of these tales, "Torpid Smoke" &
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"Terra Icognita", survive as modernistic experiments with little of intrinsic interest. Others are richly comic ("Lips to Lips", "An Affair of Honor") and/or polgnant, in a grotesque sort of way ("The Potato Elf", "Breaking the News"). Of special interest are the first two chapters of an abandoned novel that clearly pave the way to such masterpieces as Pale Fire -- "Ultima Thule" and "Solus Rex". Of course, a dictionary is required, as is a nocuous sense of humor, in order to enjoy many of Nabokov's sentiments or such sentence fragments such as: "goodness knows into what furuncles the mamillae of merit may turn under scrutiny!"
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LibraryThing member Marse
What can one say about Nabokov's collection of stories, written originally in Russian, during the 1930s? I've never really liked Nabokov (except for the novel Ada, which I found enthralling), but I'm completely fascinated by him, his works, and his disdain for the average reader. I must say that,
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unlike some of his novels, I didn't feel him constantly poking me in the back as I read and whispering, "did you get that? did you get that? I thought not," with a superior smirk on his face. Although I did smell him looking over my shoulder when reading the short introductions he included before each of the stories.
Many of the stories have for milieu the faded, sad world of Russian emigres in Berlin. He captures the atmosphere of people who are living their lives between expectation and resignation: a magical and awkward kind of limbo. In the stories "Ultima Thule" and "Solus Rex", both of which were chapters from an unfinished and destroyed novel, Nabokov's way with language and storytelling draws you along and it is a wonderful ride. It makes one wish he had finished that novel.
Contains: Foreword; A Russian Beauty; The Leonardo; Torpid Smoke; Breaking the News; Lips to Lips; The Visit to the Museum; An Affair of Honor; Terra Incognita; A Dashing Fellow; Ultima Thule; Solus Rex; The Potato Elf; The Circle
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LibraryThing member BradKautz
This collection of short stories is the first writing by Nabakov that I have ever read, and I liked it. Thirteen stories, originally written in Russian and published in the émigré press, some of which were translated and published in various English periodicals, now gathered together. Well, not
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exactly now, as my copy was published in 1973, and I believe I obtained in the early '90's. Nonetheless, this is a delightful collection of stories. Many are set in Berlin in the 1920's-'30's, where Nabakov's family first settled after fleeing the Russian Revolution. To borrow from the language of music, there is writing here in major and minor keys, with interesting lines of melody and harmony, varying pitch and intriguing tempo. The stories are 90 years old, republished in English over 40 years ago, and yet still carrying a fresh and captivating aroma. I've never read Nabakov before, but these stories whet my palate to sample him again someday.
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