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Despair by Vladimir Nabokov
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1,233156,447 (3.8)21
  1. 00
    Where There's Love, There's Hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Unreliable narrators, packed with literary references, and appear at first to have cliched plots.
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    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Jarandel)
    Jarandel: The presence or absence of doubles leads protagonists to the strangest extremities. Also, unreliable narrators.
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Hermann, the novels protagonist, is the progenitor of Lolita's Humbert Humbert. Very good read. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
The narrator and protagonist of the story, Hermann Karlovich, a Russian emigre businessman, meets a tramp in the city of Prague, whom he believes to be his exact double. Even though Felix, the supposed doppelgänger, is seemingly unaware of their resemblance, Hermann insists that their likeness is most striking. Hermann is married to Lydia, a sometimes silly and forgetful wife (according to Hermann) who has a cousin named Ardalion. It is insinuated at times that they are in fact lovers, although this seems doubtful because Hermann stresses how much Lydia loves him. Ardalion is an awful artist, although he refuses to admit it. After some time, Hermann shares with Felix a plan for both of them to profit off their shared likeness by having Felix briefly pretend to be Hermann. But after Felix is disguised as Hermann, Hermann kills Felix in order to collect the insurance money on Hermann on March 9. Herrmann considers the presumably perfect murder plot to be an artistical expression rather than a scheme to gain money. But as it turns out, there is no resemblance whatsoever between the two men, the murder is not 'perfect', and the murderer is about to be captured by the police in a small hotel in France, where he is hiding. Herrmann who is writing the narrative switches to a diary mode at the very end just before his captivity, the last entry is on April 1.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
A nightmare of a novel that takes us into the mind of another "unreliable narrator." Like many of Nabokov's novels we can never be sure of what we know since it's based on what the narrator tells us - much of which is questionable. What starts out as the seemingly perfect murder becomes the perfect stage for madness. Is it "real" or is it Nabokov? ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Compared to the intricacy of Pale Fire and Lolita, this is little more than a dress rehearsal for later triumphs (although, in a twist typical of Nabokov, it is actually both an early and late work: see N's preface). The narrative tricks for manipulating the reader are a bit more obvious than in those great novels, and the narrator, one of N's great solipsists, lacks the charm that makes it so easy to forget what vampires Humbert and Kinbote are. But judged as a work of genre fiction, as a novel about a killer who tries to pull off the perfect crime, it's absolutely at the top of its class: one better than the best of Highsmith, I'd say. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
In which a self-proclaimed mastermind decides that his discovery of his lookalike is his ticket to pulling off a great criminal enterprise. Hermann Karlovich is one of my favorites of Nabokov's unreliable narrators, and it's great fun sharing his elaborate schemes, dreams, and dismissals of the capacities of all and sundry individuals who might get in his way. Nabokov's language throughout is, no surprise, achingly beautiful. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Oct 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679723439, Paperback)

Extensively revised by Nabokov in 1965--thirty years after its original publication--Despair is the wickedly inventive and richly derisive story of Hermann, a man who undertakes the perfect crime--his own murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Extensively revised by Nabokov in 1965--thirty years after its original publication--Despair is the wickedly inventive and richly derisive story of Hermann, a man who undertakes the perfect crime--his own murder.

» see all 2 descriptions

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