‘Mary’, by Vladimir Nabokov


March 21, 2011 by Me and My Monkeys

Mary, by Vladimir Nabokov
“The dancers are asleep on the divan.”

Mary is Nabokov’s first novel, so I tried to find evidence of boyish naivety. I was confronted only by my own.

Like N’s protagonist, Ganin, I frequently “felt such a sudden access to sadness”, found myself “quite incapable of renunciation or flight”, and encountered “that aching feeling of loneliness …when someone dear to us surrenders to a daydream in which we have no place”.

As for Vladimir, he just drifts through this daydream – hinting at his own presence – like the host of an English (or Russian) Literature department wine and cheese party. There is, already lurking, the obsessive Humbertian lover who admires “the delicate curve of [Mary’s] nostril”.  And there is also the labyrinth of memory, shadow and simulacra that transform every statement into a question. “Surely memories won’t die when I do”.

The dancers are asleep on the divan?  I won’t elaborate. Just a metaphor for all that has been lost: love, life, opportunity.  And yet the book is not depressing. We are left with reality: “life in all the thrilling beauty of despair and happiness”.

Nabokov writes that “[m]usic transforms everything into a significant and immortal gesture”.  So does He.

Recommended? Yes, and highly. If you like a melancholy ache in your joints.

Out of 10? A solid, and perhaps unlucky, 8.

3 thoughts on “‘Mary’, by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. cricketmuse says:

    I am impressed by your eclectic tastes and insightful reviews. I have yet to get around to Nabokov–I find myself stuck in Regency England for most of my historical period reading. Thanks for the stop by..
    Blue Skies,
    Cricket Muse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Eight hundred words per film. For moviegoers and those only crawling in the world of cinema.

The Daily Omnivore

Everything is Interesting


A path through the great books


----------- Writer / Music re-views / inter-views / and my points of view ----------- The GROUND Magazine / HungerTV


The art of the music video

artemis projects

exploring the far side of the moon

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

Wellreadweare's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog


Microfiction meets Matt Damon


A look at films, music and everything in-between

Simply Film

Film Explained Simply

Random Musings

Book Reviews and More..

Grace Hilton

Journalistic recordings of a pursuit of certainty.

Richard & Sophia's Big Adventure

Tales from the trail: 2011-2012


Writing about movies, monsters, cinematic events and other wild trips

the word of mick

you know I always have an opinion...

Australian Film Review

Reviews, Articles, Events, Giveaways, Ponies.

%d bloggers like this: