Love in the Time of … Ada?

Having finished Gabriel García Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera on Friday, I was desperately grasping around for something new to read. The difficulty is that almost all my books are in storage in New Jersey, owing to the difficulty of fitting six bookcases into an 825 square foot apartment in Boston and still having room for many cases of wine.

Then I realized I still had some Nabokov on my shelves. I hadn’t read Ada, or Ardor in many years. It was time to pick it up again.

I had forgotten how genuinely strange the book is. I’m one chapter in and I’m in love with the book again. I hope that Dmitri Nabokov (the author’s son and translator) at some point approves a hypertext edition of the works, because his works cry out for linking, annotation, and just general explication. The book is set in a slightly different world in which Russia and the US coexist (as they did in Nabokov’s memory. Reading the place names alone is an adventure: the states New Cheshire and Mayne, the cities “Aardvark, Massa.” and “Lolita, Texas” (!), the transposition of Russia into somewhere in “‘Russian’ Canady, otherwise ‘French’ Estoty, where not only French, but Macedonian and Bavarian settlers enjoy a halcyon climate under our Stars and Stripes.”

But it’s a love story. More about that as I get further into the book.