Thursday, July 19, 2018

THE ENCHANTER by Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov's The Enchanter, while impressively written and translated, is surely the most minor and conventional Nabokov book I've ever read. An early, skeletal, melodramatic conception of the Lolita narrative, its best-left-in-manuscript quality was probably recognized by the author, who never made more than a gesture toward publishing it during his lifetime. As usual in these cases, the estate should have trusted the author's apparent instincts. Nabokov is at his best with all stops pulled; The Enchanter, while it has its pleasures--the expressionistic suicide at the end, Nabokov's handling of the terror of desire and its frustrations--reads as a relatively muted, hedged and hasty performance. It's not a necessary addition to the V.N. canon; all but completists can safely skip it. In the inevitable context of Lolita, this little book is nothing more than an idea Vlad got right the next time.

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