Finishing up Mary by the end of the year and moving onto King, Queen, Knave in short order.

I’m back after a  long hiatus; my work schedule kept me away from continuing the blog entries for awhile, but I’m continuing now with Mary.  Sorry for the delay in posting and responding to several great comments, both on this page and in the Mary postings; thanks for your patience!

This blog details a systematic re-reading of all of Vladimir Nabokov’s novels (both Russian novels translated into English and English novels) in chronological order.   As I read, I will be noting patterns, references, points of interest, and an occasional anomaly here or there.  Go to the right panel on your screen and click on the the title of a novel to view posts and comments on that novel (right now, there is only one, Mary, as I am just beginning this project).  I welcome your comments and suggestions for additions as I go along.  If you are a Nabokov buff, this blog may be for you!

About myself:  I’m Patrick O’Donnell, an English professor at Michigan State University, an avid reader of and writer about contemporary fiction, and a lifelong fan of Nabokov’s fiction.  If I ever finish this re-reading of Nabokov, a re-reading of the novels of Thomas Pynchon will be next up.

New!!!  My book, The American Novel Now:  Reading American Fiction Since 1980 has just been published (in February, 2010) by Wiley-Blackwell.  Click on the cover photo for further information.



  1. For each book written in Russian, you have to explain who is the tranlator, other translations, interpretations.

    • I appreciate the comment. The first posting in the Mary thread discusses the edition being used and the translator. I will do so for all of the novels I discuss.

  2. Excellent! Glad to see this. I just started reading Nabokov–many of the books for the first time. I, of course, read “Lolita,” “Pale Fire,” and “Ada” many years ago, but only have returned to him in the last few years. I started from the beginning with “Mary” and am now on “Laughter in the Dark.” I recently decided to read each novel twice (though not in a row) in line with VN’s idea that all good books are worth reading twice.

    I look forward to your comments on “Mary,” Professor O’Donnell.

    • Thanks for your comment; I’ll look forward to hearing more as things develop.

  3. This blog is a great idea and I am looking forward to following along, what would make it better however, would be linking the front page to the posts in chronological order.

    • Thanks for visiting, and for your suggestion. I’m not quite sure what you mean, however; the front page is and will be linked to each novel as I note them, and the individual posts on each novel come in reverse chronological order, following the traditional blog setup. Let me hear more about what you have in mind.

  4. On most blogs, one is presented with the most recent posts, regardless of category, on the front page. If one wishes they can drill down via category or time using the side bar. This is just a suggestion, other people may feel differently, for me it just makes it easier to scan recent activity.

  5. Enjoying this a lot. Thank you for timing your book-by-book re-reading with my decision to dive fully into the master’s ouevre.

  6. Hello 🙂
    First of all, pray excuse my poor English.
    I’m Russian, living in Moscow, 31 years old. I’m a fan of Nabokov’s fiction.
    I have read all his novels of the “Russian period”.
    They are an impressing examples of Russian literature, I think.
    His novels translated from English I haven’t read yet. I dream to read it in original one day. What for? Confess, I feel something like “jealousy”: these novels were written not for us /Russians/ 🙂 So, I would like, it will be for me, too 🙂

    I’m glad to take part in this conversation.
    If anybody needs any explain concerning the original texts of Nabokov’s novels in Russian, I’ll be happy to help.

  7. What book is next? Need to be ready with the right tome.
    Thx, jw

  8. Hey,I think the professor has left the classroom. I’m done with Mary and on to King, Queen, Knave…
    Enjoying it all the same.

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


    • I’m still here; had to take a break for other work, but will be back at it this week, finishing up Mary and moving on.

      • Cool. Missed your guidance and insight.
        I work in academia and figured you were busy over break. Didn’t mean to be a wiseguy 🙂

        Ready when you are..

        Best, jw

  9. i was hoping someone would track the waiting for an entry visa to france as berlin was being de-russified…seems like this bureaucratic net was very sticky…..

    • A very good observation; it certainly has impact upon the characters of the novel, especially Podtyagin, who spends the novel waiting for clarification of his visa status.

  10. In Orhan Pamuk’s new novel, “The Museum of Innocence,” early on he employs a very VN-like conceit: the main character talks about seeing his new, young lover in a single moment in both the present and the past.
    I believe we saw that in “Mary.” The Master does it better, of course.
    Pamuk, who won a Nobel in literature, is a big VN fan. Check out the New Yorker fiction podcast where he talks about and reads a section of “Speak, Memory.” (You can hear it on iTunes or at http://www.newyorker.com, both free.)

  11. Finally, finished re-reading “Mary.” To me, very much a novel about *not* going home; of the past being allowed to remain the past because it’s sweeter that way.

    Or, am I wrong?

    On to “KQK”



  12. Noise of clearing throats….

    • Thanks for the Pamuk connection; he was here, at my university, a couple of years ago and spoke of his affinities with Nabokov; like VN, Pamuk is something of an exile, and writes with exilic nostalgia of his native Istanbul in his fiction and memoirs.

  13. Welcome back! Your new book looks great. I told the wife to shortlist it for my birthday. (I’m on a DeLillo kick so the timing is perfect.)
    Also, saw you worked on the Fitzgerald book. Just saw “Gatz,” the play where in two parts they read the entirety of Gatsby. It was fantastic. Goes to NY next season.
    Now to crack open Mary again…um, so to speak.
    Best, JW

    • Thanks for your kind note; I hope to finish with the Mary commentary in the next week or so and move on to /King, Queen, Knave/. I hope you enjoy /The American Novel Now /if it comes your way; I’ve not heard about “Gatz,” but will catch up to it. Thanks again.


      Pat O’Donnell

  14. Will you continue to comment Mary? Or that’s all?

    • Yes; I’m caught up in teaching at the moment but will be finishing Mary and starting on KQN soon.

  15. When will you continue reading Nabokov?

  16. Sad this space seems so quiet. Would it be a good idea to open it up to comments by readers no matter where they happen to be in Nabokov’s Garden of Delights?

    I’m on “Bend Sinister” right now and like it very much. It’s both penetrating and suspenseful. Also slowly reading Volume I of the Boyd biography.

    This is a little something I wrote on Dmitri Nabokov: http://tbdeluxe.blogspot.com/2012/03/800×600-normal-0-false-false-false-en.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s