[Novel] The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (Vladimir Nabokov)

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Vladimir Nabokov can sometimes truly make me wonder whether he is not completely mad. Nabokov’s first book in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, is a story about a guy who writes biography of his Russian half-brother who wrote his novels in English and keeps implying that he would have achieved even bigger greatness if he wrote them in Russian. It’s as if the book’s plot is arguing against its own existence.

Besides that, the novel  — while still masterfully written  — is relatively tame compared to Lolita or Pale Fire.

Positive: Negative:
Beautiful, effective prose Doesn’t offer anything particularly groundbreaking
Intriguing, surreal atmosphere The plot can get a bit dull at times
Interesting, profound characters
Some really befuddling undertones that almost contradict the book’s existence
Enlightening on the struggles of a writer writing in a non-native tongue

 

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