Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Look at the Harlequins!

Rate this book
A dying man cautiously unravels the mysteries of memory and creation. Vadim is a Russian emigre who, like Nabokov, is a novelist, poet and critic. There are threads linking the fictional hero with his creator as he reconstructs the images of his past from young love to his serious illness.

272 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1974

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Vladimir Nabokov

711 books12.6k followers
Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков .

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery, and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.

Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory (1951), was listed eighth on the publisher's list of the 20th century's greatest nonfiction. He was also a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
337 (23%)
4 stars
537 (36%)
3 stars
445 (30%)
2 stars
117 (8%)
1 star
22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for William2.
745 reviews2,959 followers
November 19, 2016
Second reading. A mock-memoir by the fictional Russian novelist Vadim Vadimovich, whose life is not dissimilar to Nabokov's own. As a mere strip of a lad VV flees the Bolsheviks leaving — unlike VN — a dead Red in his wake. Like VN too he first lives in Berlin, then Paris, and finally comes to America where he teaches European classics while continuing to write novels, though now in English. The tales of the VV's marriages here are hilarious. The first to a woman named Iris, whom he meets through a Cambridge friend, the gay Ivor Black; this is a love match and it's depiction is very rich and satisfying in VN's usual crystalline manner. Iris and VV have a villa on the Cote d'Azur to which they escape every summer, and the depiction of that seaside wonderland is magnificent. VV's second marriage is to a prude by the name of Annette for whom sex is an act of degradation. This is the inauspicious note on which that marriage begins. It ends with her idiotic if not quixotic turn to Sovietism, which is like a knife to the heart of our dissident narrator. Quite funny. His third wife, Louise, is an international nymphomaniac, who humiliates daughter Bel, the surprise product of the chaste second marriage. The novel's a lot of fun, especially if you've read VN's other novels and can pick out the many parallels between his work and the fictional oeuvre of Vadim Vadimovich. For example, VV's Kingdom by the Sea is clearly — in both the way it affects the author's life and in its controversial content — a parallel universe version of Lolita . Look at the Harlequins was published three years before Nabokov's death in 1977 and it shows his narrative vigor undiminished by time. If you love VN's work, as I do, you must read it. It's rich and deeply satisfying. I thought its start a little bumpy, like lifting off from a short though pocked and pitted runway. But the reader is soon aloft and enjoying the slight positive-negative G forces — the frisson that great writing always provides.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,685 followers
May 12, 2016
“We are liable to miss the best of life if we do not know how to tingle, if we do not learn to hoist ourselves just a little higher than we generally are in order to sample the rarest and ripest fruit of art which human thought has to offer.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Look at the Harlequins!


How ironic, that I write a five paragraph review of 'Look at the Harlequins!' and with a careless sideways swipe of my too smooth mouse lose it all. Now I have to climb out of a self-made despair and mentally turn around and try and recreate the review I JUST wrote. There might be similarities to my real/original review, but any thing I say, any words I write will just be shadows and mouches volantes of my first try.

Nabokov's false memoir is loose, brazen and genius all at the same time. It is a false 'Speak, Memory', a greedy parody and doppelgängers of his own past. Vladimir, through Vadim, shows us how impossible it is to stop, turn around and recreate, or recapture the past. Even setting the past down on paper is no good. It is all fleeting whispers and harlequins.

Reading this novel, I was taken suddenly with the thought (almost certainly not original) that Nabokov's obsession with doubles, refractions, twins and doppelgängers comes from the split with him. There exists with Nabokov the Russian гений (Despair, the Gift, King, Queen, Knave) and the English genius (Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada). That ability to exist at such a high level in two different literary worlds is beyond simply amazing. Nabokov wasn't just dancing on a spinning chessboard. He was all the chessmen on both the black and the white side of the board.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
March 18, 2009
A very funny idea for the Master's last book. He was obviously sick to death of people asking him whether his novels were autobiographical. ("Tell me, I'm curious - have you ever raped any 12-year-old girls?") So here, he writes a novel about an author who on the surface is rather like Nabokov, and writes a bunch of books that are rather like Nabokov's books, except that in the fictitious novelist's case they really ARE autobiographical!

Unfortunately, I feel the same way about Harlequins as I do about the movie Churchill: The Hollywood Years. In CTHY, the theme of having British WW II heroes played by American actors is taken to its logical conclusion, and we have Lootenant Winston Churchill of the US Marine Corps, played by Christian Slater and romancing Neve Campbell as the young Princess Elizabeth. At first, you think you are in for a two hour laugh-fest: the basic joke is terrific, and it has patches of brilliance. "We will fight them on the beaches!" thunders Slater over the phone to a teary-eyed Campbell, as he's pinned down by Nazi fire. But it doesn't keep up the pace, and often ends up feeling forced or plain silly.

I should reassure you that Harlequins is far more accomplished than CTHY, and if you have read a reasonable number of Nabokovs you will almost certainly like it. But you still end with the sad feeling that it could have been so much better.
Profile Image for Jeff Jackson.
Author 4 books467 followers
October 19, 2015
Nabokov's last finished novel isn't a career summation so much as a madcap burlesque of his own work and reputation. The narrator here is a Bizarro world version of his creator, a nudist and drunkard who's been married "three or four times" and falls for a nymphette who happens to be his own daughter. You'll want to be familiar with VN's other works to fully appreciate many of the jokes and the metaphysical maneuvers, which somewhat limits the appeal of the story. But if an author hasn't earned the goodwill to try something like this with their last novel, then when?

Brian Boyd sees this novel as an inversion of VN's memoir "Speak, Memory" and a valentine to his wife Vera. He's right, but there's a lot of other odd things hovering around the edges of the story, namely the way the narrator at times seems to be slipping into his own fictions in a way that recalls "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight," a novel alluded to numerous times throughout. There's also the deeply disturbing relationship between the narrator and his daughter, which Boyd reads much more innocently than I did. Like "Lolita," you have to untangle the daughter's psychology from the distorting lines of the narrator's prose. And like Van Veen in "Ada," the narrator's morality here is both troubling and complex. In this thoroughly mirrored funhouse, the reflections are rarely what they seem.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,853 reviews1,367 followers
February 19, 2021
These little twists, trapdoors of prose, can induce a heady vertigo when used judiciously, when there is some sort of solid ground for them to undermine.

3.3 stars rounded up. I loved the first two thirds, finding more than abundant Easter eggs, especially ones from Sebastian Knight and a stray nod to the sisters Vane. The concluding sections featuring a strange (Glory-inspired?) trip to the USSR was disturbingly flat. I agree with Manny (please read his review) that this should have been so much better. The word "thud" comes to mind, something otherwise impossible to fathom in relation to the master.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,022 reviews4,067 followers
January 18, 2012
Vladimir was such a scream in his dotage! Honestly, everyone’s favourite arch stylist could fill the Apollo with this material. This is his final novel (barring the recently published index cards arrangement), and Vladimir goes laughing to his grave with a devilishly clever riff on his own life and works. From his early days as an extremely wealthy sophisticate, ripping his first love’s never-to-be-completed noir novel to pieces, to his time as a lecherous old professor lusting after his own daughter, all the myths about the man are lampooned in his customarily exquisite prose. His succession of wives form the meat of the novel, especially the tender portrayal of his first wife (as expounded in his debut novel Mary). All aspects of the Nabokov canon are sent up, from the enfeebled English translators of his Russian works (Vladimir would end up translating a bulk of his work himself) to the nympholepsy for nymphettes that would tar him as literature’s Dirty Old Bastard. So yes: those glorious, unwinding sentences are in evidence, dripping with irony, wordplay and mean wit. See also the brilliant novella Transparent Things.
Profile Image for Noel Ward.
140 reviews14 followers
December 24, 2019
Even though this book isn’t related to Transparent Things it feels very much like an extension of many of the themes. Nabokov continues his shading of the narrator and embellishes with all the usual chess references, butterflies, etc plus dragons in this and Transparent Things.
Profile Image for Daniel Chaikin.
594 reviews56 followers
December 24, 2021
This was a tough read. It seemed clear until I realized I was getting lost. (I stopped at page 30 and re-read from page 1...and it didn't help). Most of it is a narrator talking crazy, which gets tiresome. There is complexity and it calms down in the last 100 pages. But, i was happy to be done.

One of the interesting things about this novel is how Nabokov writes about himself in variations of apparent integrity and apparent opposition. The narrator here has a number of parallels with the real VN, including a set of parallel novels in Russian and English. He's also crazy and in other ways directly counter to Nabokov. But, not entirely crazy. The counter-real-VN stuff is also revealing about the author...and interesting if you are trying to understand him....but not if you're not.

This was his 17th and last novel. He was working on another when his health very suddenly declined. I have now read all of his novels, plus a novella, a kind of autobiography (Speak, Memory), a small biography and a longer one of his wife - and that may be my favorite of all this. Anyway, closing this chapter.


63. Look at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov
published: 1974
format: 253-page paperback
acquired: December 12
read: Dec 15-21
time reading: 10:08, 2.4 mpp
rating: 3
locations: Cambridge England. the French Riviera (or Cote de Azure), Paris, sort of Massachusetts etc.
about the author: 1899 – 1977. Russia born, educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, 1922. Lived in Berlin (1922-1937), Paris, the US (1941-1961) and Montreux, Switzerland (1961-1977).
Profile Image for Abigail.
191 reviews442 followers
September 8, 2017
Nie jestem w stanie dużo powiedzieć na temat tej książki, jednak to chciałabym tutaj zawrzeć:

• Nie jestem na razie odpowiednią osobą do oceniania tej książki - to ostatnia w jego dorobku, najbardziej autobiograficzna (chociaż bohater występuje pod troszkę zmienionym imieniem), więc dużo tutaj aluzji do życia Nabokova. Będę mogła w pełni zrozumieć i ocenić w odpowiedni sposób "Patrz na te arlekiny!" dopiero wtedy, gdy przestudiuję lepiej życie Nabokova i jego książki (czym mam w niedalekiej przyszłości się zająć).

• Uwielbiam posłowia Leszka Engelkinga. Uwielbiam jego odbiór książek Nabokova. Naprawdę wiele wprowadza do życia czytelnika, który jest świeżo po przeczytaniu tak poplątanej historii.

• Fajnie odgadywało i odnajdywało mi się różne aluzje do życia Nabokova i do jego książek, ale chcę to zrobić jeszcze raz w odpowiednim czasie i z większą wiedzą.

Kolejny raz i na pewno nie ostatni: mój niekwestionowany Mistrz.
Profile Image for Boris.
419 reviews157 followers
March 4, 2018
Фикционализирана биография на Набоков. Най-забавната му книга. Пълна е с "котви" към по-ранните му произведения, които съм чел. Навярно има още много котви към романите, които все още не съм чел. Забавлява ме, замисли ме, разчувства ме, малко ме насълзи и с края си сякаш ми каза лека нощ.

Набоков е един от малкото писатели, които умеят да направят дните ми по-живи. Това е поредната негова книга, която докато чета, ме кара да улавям определени моменти от заобикалящата ме действителност като форма на поезия, филм, пиеса, песен.

Една goodreads приятелка (^_- ) казва "Nothing compares to Nabokov".
Absolutely True. Не бих могъл да си помисля как ще живея някога след като знам, че съм изчел цялото му творчество.
Profile Image for Sandra.
913 reviews250 followers
October 21, 2012
Conoscevo Nabokov solo per Lolita finora, pur ripromettendomi di leggere altri suoi libri. Lolita è un capolavoro, non per la storia, in sé pure banale, quanto per la raffinatissima, elegante, smisuratamente ricca scrittura. Nel commento che ho scritto a Lolita ho riportato un’espressione di Nabokov, un suo pensiero, che si adatta perfettamente anche a questo romanzo. Dice Nabokov che scopo della letteratura è procurare voluttà estetica, cioè –dice- “il senso di essere in contatto, in qualche modo, in qualche luogo, con altri stati dell’essere dove l’arte (curiosità, tenerezza, bontà, estasi) è la norma.” Ebbene, gli arlecchini citati nel titolo del romanzo che ho appena letto null’altro sono che quelli che lui definisce “gli altri stati dell’essere dove l’arte è la norma”. Gli arlecchini sono quell’universo parallelo - costruito attraverso l’utilizzo di immagini e similitudini incantevoli, un uso funambolico ma perfetto del lessico che denota una padronanza sintattica e grammaticale insuperabili- in cui le emozioni umane, descritte con tale magnificenza, si arricchiscono e traboccano.
Il fatto è che in questo romanzo solo a sprazzi si possono godere le risate, le piroette e gli scherzi degli arlecchini. Di certo non nel finale, che non mi è piaciuto, le ultime pagine sono confuse e poco chiare, come del resto buona parte del libro, che racconta di uno scrittore, Vadim, che è e non è Nabokov, perché lo scrittore mescola finzione e realtà creando un personaggio che è una caricatura di sé stesso, un russo fuggito dalla patria durante il comunismo, rifugiato prima in Germania e poi in Inghilterra, incappato in più matrimoni sbagliati, trasferito in America ad insegnare all’università, inquieto, folle, con unico sollievo nel creare romanzi, che è per lui “ricreare all’infinito il mio fluido ego”. Un gioco di specchi, con alcuni ritocchi qua e là, che ha divertito lo scrittore, un Arlecchino che cambia i colori ai rombi che formano il suo abito. Non sempre, pur nella sua grandezza indiscutibile, il gioco riesce bene.Come scrive Alessandro Piperno nell’inserto di domenica scorsa del Corriere della Sera, siamo di fronte a “l’opera di un prestigiatore in pensione che rimescola le carte per l’ultima volta”.
Profile Image for nostalgebraist.
Author 3 books426 followers
November 11, 2012
The two-star rating here is disingenuous: I enjoyed reading this a lot more than I enjoyed reading most of the two-star books on my shelf. Nonetheless, more than two stars wouldn't seem right. Here's why.

Saul Maloff concludes his review of LATH! thus:

But novels are not composed of beautiful sentences. Occasionally--perhaps especially when he has stunned us with his performance in sentence after sentence--we long for a huge, lumbering, sweating, grunting workhorse of a sentence that will ploddingly perfom the brute labor of bearing its terrible, necessary burden from here to there. But of course getting "there" is not the point of Vadim's [LATH!'s narrator's] novel; the point lies in the elaboration of fantastic, fugal designs, gorgeous patterns and textures, all with contemptuous grace and virtuosity. Such art is in the essence and by disdainful intention decadent, flung in the faces of the "facetious criticules in the Sunday papers" who charge him with "aristocratic obscurity." Nabokov is our great decadent, our reigning mandarin and eccentric, a supreme, determinedly minor artist whom major ones might well envy while criticules continue to carp and gnash the stubs of their teeth.

Here's the Nabokov problem in a nutshell: how to square his "determinedly minor" nature with the apparently major ambition and, arguably, quality of much of his work. On one side there's Nabokov the nerd, the pedant, the crank -- the funny little man, "mandarin and eccentric," who insists on reminding us again and again of his funny little obsessions, his chess problems, his distaste for Freud and (bafflingly) Einstein, his vague mystical theories of time and space, his opinions about translation, etc. On the other side there's Nabokov the great novelist -- the guy who wrote Lolita, which might well be the prototypical Great Modern Novel. Nabokov the nerd says that morality does not concern him; Nabokov the great novelist writes the perfect (too perfect) subject matter for undergraduate essays on morality and irony (I don't mean that derisively). Nabokov the great novelist plucks the heartstrings with practically unequalled virtuosity; Nabokov the nerd, when confronted, denies any responsibility for his double's behavior and warms up that old, very old, very tedious lecture on how it's not the heart that is affected by great literature, and not the brain either, but the spine. . . .

Both sides, "major" and "minor," are present (in various mixtures and dialectical arrangements) in all his work, though the minor side dominates in the interviews and essays, which confuses matters greatly. For me -- just speaking personally -- the appeal of the Nabokov brand lies not in either side, but precisely in the mottled mixture of the two, the music made by the interleaving of major and minor. The great novelist brings in all his heavy weaponry, but just as his glorious gun show is really getting started, the deafening sound of the shots vanishes and is replaced by the quiet, smug little voice of the nerd, telling you about his latest chess move, about a butterfly that pretends to be another butterfly, about bad translations of Eugene Onegin. Soaring passages run aground, caught in sudden unexpected eddies of arcana. This isn't a defect -- the fun is precisely in seeing someone so very good get away with so much mischief. The nerd conquers the literary world and puts up banners everywhere reminding people of his fiddly obsessions. The reader smiles, and wants to say: if you can't beat him, join him. One can certainly imagine less endearing world-conquerors.

For me the height of this act is the very long and odd Ada, the simultaneous climax (given the novel in question the innuendo is not gratuitous) of the major and minor Nabokovs. It's undoubtedly major -- it aspires to be a parodic-romantic-horrific-lyrical capstone on the whole history of the novel -- and yet defiantly, absurdly, hilariously minor, treating at unprecedented length and with unprecedented indulgence the nerd's fixations. The revenge of the nerds! A lot of people, though, see Ada as the point where Nabokov finally went off the rails completely. Where I see a subtle and devious wreathing of the major and minor, they see the submission of the former to the cancerous growth of the latter. It's this disagreement that led me to LATH!, which by every account is a lesser ("minor"?) Nabokov novel, his last, the end of the road to nowhere he began treading with Ada. Given how much I'd previously enjoyed following Nabokov down that road, LATH! seemed at least worth a try.

At this point, the problem with LATH! is easy to state: it's all minor. It's a pile of Nabokov fanboy trivia and ephemera, with no grand ambition (when it's only in the context of grand ambition that the trivia becomes fun). The book is a first-person account of the life of a novelist named Vadim, and the whole thing is a comedic riff on Nabokov's own life. Vadim's own books are mirror-universe versions of Nabokov's own (where N's first English novel is The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Vadim's is "See Under Real," which sounds from his description like a hybrid of RLSK and Pale Fire). Vadim's life is little but a series of injokes about Nabokov's books, and about the speculations that have been made about his life on the basis of his books. Like many Nabokov protagonists, Vadim is insane. Unlike most of his predecessors, he knows he's insane, and makes a point of delivering a long speech about his condition to any woman who might consider marrying him. The joke is that Vadim's condition -- an Oliver Sacksian quirk of visual imagination that leads him unable to imagine performing an about face -- is so trivial and uninteresting that these speeches are pointless. In terms of dramatic potential, we're a long way from Cincinnatus or Kinbote. (And in that difference we can glimpse the smirk of the nerd. "Who cares about dramatic potential? I write what I write, and either you feel it in your spine or you don't.")

A few good jokes, a few good lines . . . but even the writing style is dimming here. Too much reliance, for instance, on unexpected reversals of conventional phrases. On page 85: "I consistently try to dwell as lightly as inhumanly possible . . . " Only three pages later: ". . . on that particular night on the fourth or fifth or fiftieth anniversary of my darling's death . . . " These little twists, trapdoors of prose, can induce a heady vertigo when used judiciously, when there is some sort of solid ground for them to undermine. Here, there's no reason to care. So what if Vadim is unreliable or inhuman or I don't know what? What is there here to be reliable about?

The book's title first appears in the text in this wonderful passage, which I'm sure will remain in my memory when everything else about LATH! has faded:

An extraordinary grand-aunt, Baroness Bredow, born Tolstoy, amply replaced closer blood. As a child of seven or eight, already harboring the secrets of a confirmed madman, I seemed even to her (who also was far from normal) unduly sulky and indolent; actually, of course, I kept daydreaming in a most outrageous fashion.

"Stop moping!" she would cry: "Look at the harlequins!"

"What harlequins? Where?"

"Oh, everywhere. All around you. Trees are harlequins, words are harlequins. So are situations and sums. Put two things together -- jokes, images -- and you get a triple harlequin. Come on! Play! Invent the world! Invent reality!"

I did. By Jove, I did. I invented my grand-aunt in honor of my first daydreams, and now, down the marble steps of memory's front porch, here she slowly comes, sideways sideways, the poor lame lady, touching each step edge with the rubber tip of her black cane.

"Stop moping! Look at the harlequins!": a good mantra, and a reminder of the comfort that minorness can provide in a sometimes oppressively major world. But as for this novel? A reader interested in obeying the injunction should probably look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Jolanta.
331 reviews24 followers
January 27, 2020
“- Nesėdėk suniuręs,- sakydavo ji,- žvelk į arlekinus!
-Kokius arlekinus? Kur jie?
-O, visur. Aplink tave. Medžiai- tai arlekinai, žodžiai irgi arlekinai. Ir situacijos, ir uždaviniai. Sudėk į krūvą du daiktus- pokštus, vaizdus- ir gausi tris arlekinus. Nagi! Žaisk! Išgalvok pasaulį! Kurk tikrovę!”
“...man nedavė ramybės sapną primenantis jausmas, jog mano gyvenimas yra neidentiškas dvynys, parodija, prastesnė kito žmogaus, gyvenančio šioje ar kitoje žemėje, gyvenimo versija.”
“ Nesame pratę mąstyti žodžiais, nes didžioji gyvenimo dalis- tai pantomima, bet kai žodžių prireikia, tikrai juos įsivaizduojame, lygiai kaip įsivaizduojame visa kita, ką galime suvokti šiame ar dar mažiau tikėtiname pasaulyje.”
“Tai, kas daugelį kartų buvo nutikę mintyse, dabar atsitiko tikrivėje: aš neįstengiau pasukti atgal. Kad atlikčiau šį judesį, turėjau apsukti ant ašies visą pasaulį, o to padaryti neįmanoma, kaip neįmanoma kūnu sugrįžti iš šios akimirkos į ankstesnę.”
Profile Image for Mahmood666.
110 reviews84 followers
October 19, 2016
به دلقکها نگاه کن
ولادمیر ناباکوف
شمیم هدایتی
نشر نیلا
ولادمیر ناباکوف از بزرگترین نویسندگان قرن بیستم دنیاست و جالب این است که این نویسنده بزرگ و توانا رمانهایش را چون نویسنده معروف و همعصر خودش (سامویل بکت)به دوزبان متفاوت (روسی و انگلیسی)مینوشت .ناباکوف به پیروی از استاد بزرگ ادبیات انگلیسی ،جیمز جویس، نواوریهای بسیاری در ادبیات زمانه خود به بار اورد و شاید به دلیل همین نواوریها در سبک و همچنین خلاف زمانه خویش بودن باشد که تا سالهای دهه شصت میلادی انچنان که باید جدی نگرفته شد .
معروفترین رمان ناباکوف لولیتا است ، اما ناباکوف اثاربسیار دیگری نیز نوشته است که بسیاری از خوانندگان و منتقدان ،انها را حتی از لولیتا نیز برتر میدانند و البته دلیل عدم اشنایی مخاطبین با این کتب را در فرم پیچیده این اثار می یابند .
به دلقک ها نگاه کن واپسین اثر کامل منتشر شده در زمان حیات این استاد رمان نویسی و مصول سالهای اخر زندکی اوست که به تازگی ب�� فارسی انتشار یافته است.ناباکوف در این اثر چون اثار دیگرش ،موضوعی بسیار عجیب و دور از ذهن را دستمایه اثرش ساخته است.
وادیم وادیموویچ ،نویسنده بزرگی که به دوزبان روسی و انگلیسی داستان مینویسد، قهرمان این کتاب است که در این کتاب میکوشد بیوگرافی خود را روایت میکند .اما نکته جالب این است که رمانهایی که وادیم وادیمویچ ادعای نوشتنشان را در جای جای کتاب میکند و خلاصه داستانشان را روایت میکند،همانهاییست که ناباکوف انها را با همان ترتیب ولی نه دقیقا به همان صورت نوشته است .زندگی وادیم وادیمویچ در کل با زندگی ناباکوف یکسان است ولی در جزییات هیچ شباهتی میان این دو نفر ��یست.و جالب اینکه وادیم در کتاب ،به کرات توسط دیگران با ناباکوف اشتباه گرفته میشود.کتاب در واقع زندگینامه ای قلابی از نویسنده ای قلابی است که توسط نویسنده اصلی(ناباکوف) ،البته در پشت صحنه و در سایه روایت میشود.
به دلقگها نگاه کن ،چون اثار دیگر این نویسنده ،بسیار جذاب است اما نکته ای که به نظر عموم منتقدان سبب ضعف این کتاب شده است،قائم به ذات نبودن اثر است.خواننده این رمان باید زندگینامه ناباکوف را با جزییاتش ،به طور دقیق بداند و همچینین تقریبا تمامی اثار ناباکوف (بویژه رمانها)را خوانده باشد تا بتواند کتاب را به طور کامل درک کند ،در غیر این صورت کتاب، چیزی به جز دسته کلیدی با کلیدهای بسیار ،برای باز کردن یک دربسته نیست.
ترجمه کتاب بسیار عالی است و شمیم هدایتی (که گویا از همکاری چند نفر دیگر چون حمید امجد،بهرنگ رجبی و ...)در ترجمه این کتاب بهره برده است،توانسته یکی ��ز بهترین ترجمه های اثار ناباکوف به زبان فارسی را ،با نثری روان و در ضمن ناباکوفی! و همچنین همراه با پانویسهای سودمند به دست دهد و پیداست که تلاش بسیاری در ترجمه این اثر صورت گرفته است.
این کتاب یکی از بهترین اثاریست که در چند ماه اخیر خوانده ام

بخشی از کتاب :
درواقع ،طبیعتا,مدام مشغول به هولناک ترین شیوه مشغول خیالپردازی بودم .
بارونس فریاد میزد :دست از ماتم کرفتن بردار !به دلقک ها نگاه کن !
کدام دلقک ها ؟کجا؟
اه ،همه جا.دور وبرت .درختها دلقکند.کلمه ها دلقکند.موقعیت ها و حساب و کتابها هم.دو چیز را کنار هم بگذار -شوخی،تصویر ؛دلقک و سه گانه ای بدست بیار.زود باش !بازی کن!دنیا را بساز!واقعیت را بساز!
ساختم به خدا ساختم.
وقتی بارونس ان سه کلمه را فریاد میزد ،کلمات در مصراع سه هجایی ضربِ آغاز نَفَس گیری با یک آهنگ نوک زبانی ِتند بیرون میریختند ،انگار ((بِدَلقکا)) بود ،هم آوا با ((بیدَلقکا ))و با ملایمت ،با چاپلوسی ِ پیشواز رفتنِ آن ((نگاه کن ))که با نیروی اکنده از شادی فرا می رسید ،آن ((نگا))ی کاملا موکد با فورانِ ترغیبی هوشمندانه و به دنبالش نزول جاریِ هجاهای پولک وار.
Profile Image for Ehsan.
241 reviews81 followers
September 6, 2019
«همان‌لحظه آیریسِ برهنه مداخله کرد، و با ظرافت، بی‌عجله، با لبخندی شاد، گوشیِ تک‌گویی‌کننده را قاپید. یک دقیقه بعد (برادرش با وجودِ همه‌ی عیب‌هایش خوشبختانه پشتِ تلفن خلاصه‌گو بود) آیریس همچنان خندان مرا در آغوش گرفت، و ما برای آخرین fairelamourirمان -آن‌جور که او با فرانسه‌ی شیرینِ غلط‌غلوطش می‌نامید- به اتاق‌خوابِ او رفتیم.» برای مرگ‌ورزیدن.

به دلقک‌ها نگاه کن: به ناممکنی‌ی روایت یک‌دستِ یک سرگذشت، تجسم‌ناپذیری‌ی شکل معکوس یک وضعیت و ناممکن بودن تقلید از امری که پیش از این وجود داشته؛ نمایشِ نشدن.
Profile Image for Smiley .
774 reviews18 followers
September 16, 2020
4.50 stars

I didn't mean to read this unfamiliar novel by Vladimir Nabokov but I simply couldn't help calling the DASA Book Café to keep it for me after its recent arrival around the middle of this month. I had no idea on its story, its following information has since kept encouraging me to have a try,
"The final novel published before Nabokov's death, Look at the Harlequins! playfully blends sly self-parody, recollection, in an exuberant unravelling of the mysteries of memory and the act of creation." (back cover)

While reading on and on, I liked his design on various chapter numbers and lengths since it, more or less, kept stimulating my 214-page journey. I appreciated it as an act of his creation as revealed in seven parts: part one (13-chapter), part two (10-chapter), part three (4-chapter), part four (7-chapter), part five (3-chapter), part six (2-chapter), and part seven (4-chapter). As for part one, for instance, chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 cover 2.7, 4, 2.4, 4.1, 4.6, 5, 5, 3.8, 3.6, 4.8, 4.5, 2.9, and 5 pages respectively. The chapter lengths unpredictably vary from 5 to 2.4 pages.

Reading him, I think, needs one's self-trained concentration and familiarity with his writing style because he preferred long sentences and tough words. As we can see, for example, from the opening paragraph in chapter one:
I met the first of my three or four successive wives in somewhat odd circumstances, the development of which resembled a clumsy conspiracy, with nonsensical details and a main plotter who not only knew nothing of its real object but insisted on making inept moves that seemed to preclude the slightest possibility of success. Yet out of those very mistakes he unwillingly wove a web, in which a set of reciprocal blunders on my part caused me to get involved and fulfill the destiny that was the only aim of the plot. (p. 3)

He wrote it in two sentences, eight lines (in text). Remarkable, isn't it? It is said his English proficiency was exceptional due to the early formative years as a child from his English nanny and from his Cambridge undergraduate education. Anthony Burgess praised him, "He did us all an honour by electing to use, and transform, our language." (p. i)

Sometime, he has used the wordplay technique as well as applied unique phrases or unthinkable usage to amuse himself and his readers as extracted as follows:

Nikifor Nikodimovich, to use his tongue-twisterish Christian name cum patronymic, was rumored to have been for years on end an admirer of my beautiful and bizarre mother, . . . (p. 9)

The car is not exactly a Royce, but it rolls. (p. 36).

Owing to the foresight of my dear guardian and benefactor (1850?-1927), . . . , as well as the vulgar obsession with 'documents,' which provoked such evil glee among the Bolshevist rulers, who perceived some similarity between red tape and Red rule . . . (p. 43)

He wore plus fours and brogues but was incongruously stockingless, and the inch of shin he showed looked painfully pink. (p. 5)

It was not a matter of dark rooms, or one-winged agonizing angels, or long corridors, or nightmare mirrors with reflections overflowing in messy pools on the floor - it was not that bedchamber of horrors, . . . , but definitely out of bounds, mortally speaking. (p. 6)

Never before or since did I sleep more deliciously. (p. 212)

To continue . . .
Profile Image for Stephen Kelly.
126 reviews19 followers
February 27, 2011
This is really only meant for Nabokov completists and not readers like me who have only read Lolita before. Nabokov assumes the persona that ignorant critics and uninformed readers have crafted for him and then writes a bizarre memoir in that voice. So what we have here are the mental wanderings of an incestuous, pretentious, slightly insane, egocentric pedophile who writes terribly. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I were more familiar with Nabokov's early works and his personal history, but without that background I found it rather tedious.
Profile Image for Katia.
32 reviews5 followers
February 9, 2011
I think I liked this book more than a lot of people did in the end, because of the language. The lovely dripping arabesques of sentences. Words luxuriating in the not quite native hyperbolization of English precision. And maybe it was the late hour at which I read it, and the fact that no one was around, but I saw checkerboards (or more appropriately for Nabokov, chess boards) everywhere. Mirror images of his life. Black to his white. Playful associations and reversals. The book shed no light on the writer except to those bothering to decipher the bizarre equations he concocted to link every fake detail to every real one. But it could really have been about train schedules. Because it was all about the language.
Profile Image for Dan.
995 reviews104 followers
July 6, 2022
A fictional autobiography in which a novelist named Vadim Vadimovich looks back at his life, loves, and literary work. Perhaps the novel could be termed an “alternate biography,” insofar as there are lots of parodic allusions to Nabokov’s own biography and his novels. I read this novel after reading many of Nabokov’s other works, so the parodies here made one kind of sense to me. However, I think it is possible to enjoy this novel without having read Nabokov’s other novels: for instance, if a reader reads this novel without having read the others, the result may be that the reader will decide to read Nabokov’s other works.

Nabokov is one of the great writers of English prose in the 20th century, and here there are masterful sentences describing settings and events, psychological states and human relations. Moreover, the novel is another example of Nabokov’s complex literary puzzles: in addition to some textual experimentation, there are images and phrases that recur in interesting contexts to keep those who search for the “figure in the carpet” busy.

Acquired Jul 16, 2009
City Lights Book Shop, London, Ontario
Profile Image for meelad.
28 reviews6 followers
February 5, 2017
خارق‌العاده! اعجاب انگیز! نویسنده‌ای به نام... ن.‏
زندگی‌نامهٔ غیر واقعی چیره‌دست‌ترین، خوش‌ذوق‌ترین، خودخواه‌ترین و منحرف‌ترین ادیب دوران.‏
آشنایی با (تسلط بر؟) آثار دیگر نابوکوف و زندگی‌نامهٔ او، و کمی زبان فرانسه و روسی موجب شادی بیشتر خواهد بود. ظاهراً هر میزان سواد و دانش برای عقب نیفتادن از استاد (پیشی گرفتن پیشکش) به شکل تحقیرآمیزی ناکافی است.‏
Profile Image for Madeline.
48 reviews3 followers
September 20, 2009
Nabokov's last book ends on the line "mumbling, mumbling, dying." That's just too wonderful.
Profile Image for Claudia Șerbănescu.
448 reviews79 followers
April 18, 2017
Decizia de a citi romanele scrise de Vladimir Nabokov în ordinea în care au fost publicate s-a dovedit a fi una foarte inspirată pe măsură ce parcurgeam paginile din ''Privește-i pe arlechini!'', din cuprinsul cărora aș fi priceput prea puțin dacă nu i-aș fi cunoscut celelalte cărți.
Cartea este o autobiografie ficționalizată ce dă masura geniului literar al acestui romancier insuficient apreciat și judecat pe nedrept.
Profile Image for Dubi Kanengisser.
133 reviews9 followers
February 1, 2016
It always feels silly reviewing what is clearly a masterpiece, as if I could pass judgement or somehow augment the reading of a book in which every exquisite word was painstakingly selected (my cliche words, surely, would have been mocked by Vadim Vadimovich N.).
A faux autobiography (replete, I should say, with Russian [which is, gratefully, always translated] and French [which isn't, though lucky for me my meager vocabulary was mostly sufficient]) of an author who bears a passing resemblance to Nobokov himself, this book reminded me a lot of Joseph Heller's Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man (although, of course, if there was a case of inspiration here, it went from Nabokov to Heller and not the other way around): using the memoirs of a parody of the author to answer the critiques, questions, and sycophantic praise they have encountered throughout their lives.
Reading Nabokov is a bit like reading poetry. At times I would stop trying to understand what he's saying, and just enjoy the lilt and rhythm of the words as they washed off the page, a constant torrent of whimsical, baffling, beautiful, clever and, why not, often mocking phrases.

I came across this book by accident, but I am ever so glad I did.
Profile Image for Adam Floridia.
583 reviews30 followers
May 10, 2010
Vadim Vadimovich N., author/narrator, is an inverse of Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov. Many of the traits that Vadim possesses are the very criticisms leveled (unjustly) at Nabokov by critics--aloofness, egotism, pedantry. Nabokov's deep love for his wife is also a clear foil for Vadim's various lusty pursuits.

I can't imagine anyone other than a true Nabokov aficionado really enjoying this book. The parts I found truly entertaining were those for which I could recognize an antithesis in Nabokov's life. Had I not just finished 1,300 pages of biography about the real author, I probably would find very little to enjoy in the fictitious autobiography of this pseudo-Nabokov.
Profile Image for Mi Na.
114 reviews15 followers
April 20, 2017
گه گاه وقتی تا دیروقت کار میکنم و جاسوسانِ اندیشه دست از کار انتقالِ پیامها میکشند، یک واژه نادرست حینِ حرکت در ذهن به نحوی شبیه بیسکوییتی خشک به نظر می آید که طوطی ای با پای کُندِبزرگش نگه داشته.

آن خیابان را با مجسمه ها و یاس هایش، جایی که من و آدا اولین دایره های مان را روی شن زارِ لکه لکه کشیدیم، هنرمندی ماندگار در ذهن مجسم کرده و بازآفریده بود. این تردیدِ وحشتناک که حتّا آردیس، شخصی ترین کتابم، که سرشار از واقعیت بود و اشباع شده از ذراتِ آفتابِ واقعی، میتوانست تقلیدی ناخواسته از هنرِ اسرارآمیزِ کسی دیگر باشد، این تردید میتوانست بعداً پیش بیاید؛ درآن لحظه_ 6:18 بعدازظهر15ژوئن 1970 در تسین_ هیچ چیز نمیتوانست درخشش تند و نمناک خوشبختی ام را خدشه دار کند.
Profile Image for Caroline.
768 reviews220 followers
September 18, 2013
I can understand the ratings all over the map, but in the end it is Nabokov writing, and it's wonderful language. Also very funny. An absurd riff throughout about warning his successive wives of his 'mental illness' of being unable to imagine reversing course on a journey, when he ought to be warning them of so much more. And the narrator/author pseudo Nabokov hates butterflies. But can't resist denoting locations in chess notation.
Profile Image for ali amidi.
28 reviews2 followers
July 30, 2021
آخرین رمان ناباکوف اولین کتابی بود که از او خواندم. همین اثر، او را در لیست نویسندگان مورد علاقه ام قرار داد. اثری بسیار قوی و تاثیرگذار، یک اتوبیوگرافی تخیلی، یک وصیت نامه ادبی عجیب و غریب و شاید یک اعتراف نامه اخلاقی شخصی. و صد حیف از شمیم هدایتی با آن همه دانش و هنر که جوانمرگ شد.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.