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on 10 February 2016
I'm re-reading the great man. I love his supreme cleverness, which he never tries to mask or camouflage. He knows his readers, and the rest can go jump in the Waldsee. There has been no one, there is no one, and there never will be anyone who can match him for the sheer joy of words put together and dangled before the reader like crown jewels (you can look, but you can't touch). Laughter in the Dark is hilarious, sly, gripping, moving, farcical, and, well, brilliant. It's also very good. Read him, enjoy him, revere him. We shall not look on his like again.
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on 24 February 2018
Very good used copy and very speedy delivery.
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on 21 February 2018
good value - slow delivery
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on 26 February 2014
This book was selected as book of the month by a book club I attend. Having not previously heard of Vladimir Nabokov I was slightly dubious about reading an 80 year old book originally written in Russian. I need not have had any concerned, this is engrossing from start to finish, and the author himself translated the book into English. I recommend this book to all who enjoy a morale tale told which is brisk in style with some excellent surprises as the story evolves.
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on 6 December 2016
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on 29 September 2015
A charming read not comparable to the great lolita but an entertaining novel nonethrless
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on 24 April 2016
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on 12 March 2018
A sort of dry run for Lolita - middle-aged man falls for young girl, except this nymphet is a bit older - 16 to be precise. There's a gunshot in this book as well. And there's oodles of beautiful language. Like the master, Joyce, VN certainly knew how to craft a sentence and forge an unforgettable simile..."the creaking of the cicadas was like the endless winding-up and whirr of some clockwork toy."
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on 14 April 2010
`Laughter in the Dark' (originally; `Camera Obscura') is a very early novel by Nabokov and somewhat of a precursor to his later magnum opus `Lolita'. The book establishes Nabokov's interest in the theme of inapt infatuation and the ostensibly inevitable self-destruction that follows. Although later in his life the writer came to despise this work, I believe that it offers an excellent window on the mind of a genius in the making, as well as a darkly comic reading experience.

*spoilers* Albert Albinus (fans of `Lolita' will recognise the para-rhyming, double-name technique) is an aging art critic of mediocre talent who becomes besotted with the sexually precocious Margot; a sixteen-year-old wannabe actress. Margot feigns love for Albinus and takes everything he offers her while actually engaging in an illicit relationship with a man named Rex. Margot's affair with Rex is arrestingly obvious, but the naïve Albinus fails to recognise what's going on right under his nose. As an ironic literary punishment for this metaphoric blindness, Albinus loses his sight in an horrific car accident and turns to Margot for care. The convergence of Albinus' emotional blindness and actual loss of vision results in a pitiful, brilliantly bathetic narrative for this protagonist. Albinus becomes consumed with his own romantic and intellectual short-comings as he is thrown into a black world of fear, paranoia and noises in the darkness.

`Laughter in the Dark' is a story of imprudent obsession, misplaced self-opinion and unavoidable tragedy. The novel storms towards its heart-rending denouement with the inevitability of a train speeding down its only route to its only destination. Nabokov's prose is beautiful and shocking, with frequently hilarious parenthetic digressions used to comment on the characters and their decisions. Though the novel's ending, as Albinus realises that his true blindness is towards himself, is flawed in its slapdash form and suddenness, the gloomy charm of this early work shouldn't be overlooked. Lovers of `Lolita' may find this a tame, un-poetic work by comparison, and it is true that `Lolita' explores very similar themes with much greater poetry and success. But ultimately this is a fascinating stylistic and thematic precursor to Nabokov's masterwork of literature and should provide interest to anybody with a taste for the tragic in modern writing.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 August 2015
Originally written in Russian and translated into English by the author himself, Vladimir Nabokov's 'Laughter in the Dark' is set mostly in Berlin, where we meet Albinus, a rich, middle-aged, married art critic who, aside from his interest in art, has aspirations to become a filmmaker. At the cinema one day, Albinus espies the young, rather brittle and very attractive Margot, who although still in her teens, has had more than one lover and is keen to capture the wealthy, and obviously smitten Albinus, and use him to help her to achieve her dream of becoming a film star.

Before long, Albinus's wife discovers his infidelity and removes herself and their daughter, leaving the self-centred and scheming Margot to inveigle her way into the family home and right into Albinus's personal and professional life. Whilst pressuring Albinus into divorcing his wife, Margot simultaneously encourages him into financing a film in which she has a supporting role, the success of which she hopes will bring her the stardom she longs for. But then her first lover suddenly appears and Margot finds herself torn between keeping hold of her rich sugar daddy and resuming a passionate affair with her former love - a situation which soon becomes a recipe for disaster. But who is it that finally gets their comeuppance, the hapless Albinus or his devious and manipulative mistress?

Although this novel is not one of Nabokov's best (in fact the author thought it his worst) and it may not have the scope and nuance of some of his later work, 'Laughter in the Dark' with its deadpan humour and it sprightly-paced narrative makes for an amusing and entertaining read - as long as you don't take it too seriously.

4 Stars
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