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The Eye
The Eye
The Eye
Audiobook2 hours

The Eye

Written by Vladimir Nabokov

Narrated by Fred Stella

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

3/5

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About this audiobook

Nabokov's fourth novel, The Eye is as much a farcical detective story as it is a profoundly refractive tale about the vicissitudes of identities and appearances. Smurov, a lovelorn, excruciatingly self-conscious Russian émigré living in pre-war Berlin, commits suicide after being humiliated by a jealous husband, only to suffer even greater indignities in the afterlife as he searches for proof of his existence among fellow émigrés who are too distracted to pay him any heed.

"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." -John Updike

LanguageEnglish
Release dateJan 20, 2011
ISBN9781441873019
The Eye
Author

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov (San Petersburgo, 1899-Montreux, 1977), uno de los más extraordinarios escritores del siglo XX, nació en el seno de una acomodada familia aristocrática. En 1919, a consecuencia de la Revolución Rusa, abandonó su país para siempre. Tras estudiar en Cambridge, se instaló en Berlín, donde empezó a publicar sus novelas en ruso con el seudónimo de V. Sirin. En 1937 se trasladó a París, y en 1940 a los Estados Unidos, donde fue profesor de literatura en varias universidades. En 1960, gracias al gran éxito comercial de Lolita, pudo abandonar la docencia, y poco después se trasladó a Montreux, donde residió, junto con su esposa Véra, hasta su muerte. En Anagrama se le ha dedicado una «Biblioteca Nabokov» que recoge una amplísima muestra de su talento narrativo. En «Compactos» se han publicado los siguientes títulos: Mashenka, Rey, Dama, Valet, La defensa, El ojo, Risa en la oscuridad, Desesperación, El hechicero, La verdadera vida de Sebastian Knight, Lolita, Pnin, Pálido fuego, Habla, memoria, Ada o el ardor, Invitado a una decapitación y Barra siniestra; La dádiva, Cosas transparentes, Una belleza rusa, El original de Laura y Gloria pueden encontrarse en «Panorama de narrativas», mientras que sus Cuentos completos están incluidos en la colección «Compendium». Opiniones contundentes, por su parte, ha aparecido en «Argumentos».

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Reviews for The Eye

Rating: 3.1666666666666665 out of 5 stars
3/5

180 ratings14 reviews

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I've had trouble reading most of Nabokov's novels because they are so ridiculously long. I know it's unprofessional, but I have a short attention span and bad eyesight. But The Eye was one book I could get into. The writing style was dry and detailed. It was a good book about reality, what is and what isn't.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Another fine reading. The story is witty, redolent of nineteen twenties absurdism but with a light, humane touch and many hilarious moments.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    I've so often found Nabokov cold, and unengaging. He has done it again, the narrative trick not overcoming my lack of interest in this detective story. This is Nabokov's fourth novel, and was written in 1930. Dimitri Nabokov was Nabokov's son.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    After finishing this book I realized I didn't really care that I had read it. As always Nabokov really nailed some of the sentences.

    One particular bit that pleased me:

    "It is amazing to catch another's room by surprise. The furniture froze in amazement when I switched on the light. Somebody had left a letter on the table; the empty envelope lay there like an old useless mother, and the little sheet of note paper seemed to be sitting up like a robust babe."

    I will likely forget this books plot entirely in the next 24 hours...
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    It takes you down so many possible roads! The ending was what I thought, but you just never knew for sure until you finally arrived!

    1 person found this helpful

  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This was quite an original and captivating work by Nabokov. The plot is not complex, but the characters are revealed through their actions and interactions with one another as the narrator takes a backseat. I especially liked the flow of the language and found it to be one of the lasting aspects of the work. There were many passages that were splendid and simply wonderful to read for their complexity and poetic nature.A great work. One that should be read for anyone that likes Nabokov.4 stars!

    1 person found this helpful

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    In the Berlin of 1925 a Russian emigré, one Smurov, accosted and humiliated by a jealous husband, goes home and shoots himself. What follows is the story of his bifurcated, pseudo-afterlife. As if he weren't mixed up enough, in his dissociative state he has the ill luck to fall in love. Breathtaking narrative patterning here, beautiful in a way simple crystalline forms are beautiful. A marvel that can be read in a single sitting. My second reading, I've upgraded it to 5 stars.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Reading The Eye has fuelled my desire to read everything by Nabokov that I can lay my hands on. Beautifully woven, with a cluster of characters living in their own, claustrophobic social world set the scene for the second act of this book. The Eye is a story about selfhood; about who we are, to ourselves and far more importantly, who we are in the eyes of others. Are we really just one person? Is not the personality of someone largely a mirror of what we contain in ourselves, as opposed to their own thought processes?As usual, Nabokov places the reader in a frame of mind which causes them to explore their own assumptions; not of the outside world, but of that which lay inside.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Really enjoyed this book. As always, the language is brilliant, and I think that the character dying and in his rebirth becoming nothing but an amplified reflection of how others see him is fascinating. It's not really very difficult to guess the 'mystery' of the book though, but then it's not really a mystery story I suppose so that's ok. I wish I had the energy to write more but sadly I don't.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
     I read Nabokov's fourth novel this past weekend (and quite quickly—it's a novella) and the connective tissue bonding his Russian works is starting to become manifest. In Mary we were introduced to the Russian emigré crowd; in King, Queen, Knave: grotesque love and the faulty sense of self-worth; in The Luzhin Defense the obsessive swapping of reality with dream-state. The Eye pulls in pieces of all these themes and toys around with a few more, not the least of which is the nature of our existence and a personality as refractive of the perceptions of those around it.That is, can we ever know ourselves—can we ever exist?—as, really, all we are all, as Luzhin contemplates in The Defense: "...as in two mirrors reflecting a candle...only a vista of converging lights..." Luzhin here, too, realizes to some degree that we may all just be the incomplete sum of all of our own reflections off of others' beliefs of us.Oh, there is also a story here, nominally a metaphysical detective plot. Heady stuff for a mere 100 pages. I'm starting to doubt I exist.In The Eye we continue our acquaintance with the generally jovial, mostly borgeois and slightly boorish collection of Russian emigrés. We feel how Nabokov was once part of this motley culture, at once an echo of the Motherland and an aspiring intelligentsia with (sometimes silly) cosmopolitan goals. We first get introduced to this community in Mary. Its importance was less central in King, Queen, Knave (a more German feel) and The Luzhin Defense (slightly more Russian). But it's back perforce in The Eye and will continue on into his next novel chronologically: Glory (at least, based on what I've read of the back flap).Our narrator is a peevish young man in Berlin, a recent Russian immigrant who is serving as the tutor to some snotnosed young boys. He hates it. Despite the lack of anything morally substantial in his life, he seems a preening, over-confident dandy. He takes up with a slightly sloppy mistress, whose husband wises to the liaison and gives the protagonist a summary beating—in front of his pupils. Mortified, he shoots himself.Now ostensibly dead, he spends the following three-quarters of the story living a dream-like extension of the same life. He becomes obsessed with the identity of a young man named Smurov. We're told that Smurov is a fair, wonderful, temperature man who is impeccably well-spoken and generally sensitive. Almost immediately, Smurov's actions belie this and we're left with the duty of deciding what is really happening, or what it means for something to really happen, or, anyway, to peel through the conceit of the narrator's own life and identity.In the narrator's opinion, Smurov only exists as others see him to exist, through their own keyhole perspective into his existence. Each person has their own Smurov-image: pompous fool, liar, latent homosexual, weird, would-be suitor.The narrator explains: We think of ourselves as a knowable collection of things, but, really, we're unbounded, there is no snapshot of knowing that anyone can bundle up. We're all fragmentary refractions of others' glimpses of us (or even unglimpsed shards we will never know about?), unknowable, reduced to the anecdotes and opinions of our observers, which disperse like steam after our corporeal existence ends.As the narrator unfolds Smurov from different angles, he wrangles with other human conditions, stumbling through the agony and ecstasy of unrequited love along the way. We don't care, alas, because his character is so repellant as to make him laughable, not pitiable. Or is it just that we think we understand the narrator's smug shallowness because we've seen 100 pages of its description? Maybe the reader, just like any of the individual watchers of Smurov (or the watcher of the watchers of Smurov) think we know the entirety of him, but merely know one fragment in time, from one specific perch.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    'The Eye' is something of a puzzle piece, not a who-dunnit but more a who-is-it. It's cleverly worked, and contains some masterful writing by Nabokov, who really knows his way around a pad of paper, but I couldn't help feeling this was too short and too insignificant a piece to credit being published; was it not better suited to a short story collection, or the Playboy issues it first appeared in?
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    A short novel by the famous russian-american writer in which we witness the events taking place after the suicide of the protagonist who lived among a tight group of russian émigrés in 1920's Berlin. He postumously tries to figure out, from the contradictory opinions of those around him, who was a misterious character called Smurov. A beautiful work about the problem of appearences, identity and its social significance.