Download Despair by Vladimir Nabokov PDF

By Vladimir Nabokov

Generally revised via Nabokov in 1965--thirty years after its unique publication--Despair is the wickedly creative and richly derisive tale of Hermann, a guy who undertakes the ideal crime--his personal homicide.

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Example text

He hoped he was being humorous, directing his sarcasm against them both, but his words emerged with surprising ferocity, and Florence blushed. She thought he was criticizing her for preferring the wireless to him, and before he could soften or lighten his remark she said hurriedly, “Or we could go and lie on the bed,” and nervously swiped an invisible hair from her forehead. To demonstrate how wrong he was, she was proposing what she knew he most wanted and she dreaded. She really would have been happier, or less unhappy, to go down to the lounge and pass the time in quiet conversation with the matrons on the floral-patterned sofas while their men leaned seriously into the news, into the gale of history.

It grated on her, his accounts of a new kind of sail, a ship-to-shore radio, a special yacht varnish. He used to take her out with him, and several times, when she was twelve and thirteen, they crossed all the way to Carteret, near Cherbourg. They never talked about those trips. He had never asked her again, and she was glad. But sometimes, in a surge of protective feeling and guilty love, she would come up behind him where he sat and entwine her arms around his neck and kiss the top of his head and nuzzle him, liking his clean scent.

It was here that she heard the sixteen-year-old cellist Jacqueline du Pré give her debut performance. Florence’s own tastes were not unusual, but they were intense. Beethoven’s Opus 18 obsessed her for a good while, then his last great quartets. Schumann, Brahms and then, in her last year, the quartets of Frank Bridge, Bartok and Britten. She heard all these composers over a period of three years at the Wigmore Hall. In her second year she was given a part-time job backstage, making tea for the performers in the spacious green room and crouching by the peephole so that she could open the door as the artistes left the stage.

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