Laughter in the Dark: a sublime work by Vladimir Nabokov



Why should you read this book?

This book is called Laughter in the Dark but when I finished it, I just wanted to cry in the dark. I rarely feel this way about the books I read. I only feel like this when I loved them, when they mean the world to me. Nabokov has this transcendental and eternal effect on me. First, I close the book; then, I feel like I am going to scream because I am feeling too many things at the same time. It’s a revolution inside me. And, after that, I feel sad. His writing moves me, his writing and his work become a part of me. And, lastly, I feel this urge to cry for the story, for the characters and because it’s all over.

This paragraph should be enough to make you run to the nearest bookstore and look for a copy, but if it isn’t, keep reading.

“Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster”. What a perfect way to start a novel, right? I connected right away with this book. Not that I have left a family for a mistress; but we all loved and were not loved; we were all hurt and momentarily destroyed by love. Sometimes, readers say that they don’t really appreciate Nabokov’s work because the characters aren’t likeable. I think those people are missing the point. They might not be likeable but they are universal. It’s not about their personality but about their feelings. 

Albinus is a very cult man; however he is not emotionally intelligent. He is blind and vain. Therefore, he suffer great losses (which I will not unveil to avoid spoilers). This book is about suffering, destruction, solitude, evil and betrayal. And, although he loves, this book is never about love.

Nabokov’s writing is unique. He mocks us and he despises. The irony and sarcasm dominate his works. And, you can actually feel contempt in his writing. Nabokov didn’t write to teach or preach. He wrote to remind us that we know nothing, that we are flawed and insignificant. That’s why I find this title sublime: Laughter in the Dark. Laughing in the dark is sinister and daunting, but, perhaps, also liberating. Above all, it reminds me of an ending, of a final scene, where we might be winners or losers. It doesn’t really matter, does it…? That’s what he’s trying to explain. At least, the way I see it.

Vladimir Nabokov is definitely one of the greatest writers. After reading Despair, Lolita and Laughter in the Dark, I can assure you: the latter was the best, the most sublime, undoubtedly.

“I never knew how blue blueness could be. What a mess life has been. Now I know everything. Coming, coming to drown me. There it is. How it hurts.”

Book Details:

English Edition:
Publisher: New Directions Publishing
Published on: 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 295
Price: $14.95

Edição Portuguesa:
Título: Riso na Escuridão
Editora: Relógio d’Água
Data de Publicação: Março de 2013
Formato: Capa mole
Páginas: 216
Preço: 16,00€


laughter in the dark vladimir nabokov

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