Saturday, November 28, 2009
Van Veen falls in love with his cousin Ada, who also happens to be his sister. The first hundred pages of the book explain the backstory of how this came to be; the rest detail Van's erotic awakening and his 90-year on-and-off again affair with Ada. Because it's Nabokov, the prose is lush and every page is chock full of literary allusions, scientic minutiae about butterflies and flora, philosophical disquisitions, and salacious dalliances. There are puns galore (Froid for Freud) in four or five languages; I got many but likely missed most, possessing nowhere near the requisite credentials to keep up with old Vlad, despite the inclusion of the greatest tongue-in-cheek endnote section since Gibbon. I spent four months reading Ada, or Ardor, and regret it not a bit, but I ain't smart enough to enjoy this cat to his fullest.