Once upon a time…

“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.    This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling; and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain, bound in moss, the abridged version of a man’s life, detail is always welcome.”
    The incomparable Nabokov! These are the opening lines of his 1932 novel Laughter in the Dark (original Russian title Камера обскура). And if you read the nearly 300 pages that follow, you see exactly what the narrator means: the actual story itself is really a minor part of a narrative. It’s how the story’s told, and how its ending is deferred time after time that puts the pleasure in reading (or viewing, or hearing) a narrative.

(Reference: Vladimir Nabokov. Laughter in the Dark. Trans. Vladimir Nabokov. New York: Vintage, 1989. 7.)

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May 7, 2013 · 12:34 am

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