Book Review – Despair by Vladimir Nabokov


** spoiler alert **

Hermann, the protagonist, plans the perfect insurance fraud. He plans to kill his double, and collect the life insurance money. He executes his plan to perfection, making sure his victim’s nails are the mirror image of his own, trimming them oh so carefully. But how did Hermann end up at an inn surrounded by policemen and a mob of people looking at him as though he were a monster?

Simple. He failed to see that his double looks nothing like him.

Absurd, right?

Yes, but that’s what makes this novel magnificent. I will say nothing of the prose, because this is Nabokov and the elegant writing is to be expected. The novel gave me great pleasure. It is Kafkaesque without the heaviness, and it also reminds me of Notes from Underground.

If you enjoyed Notes from Underground, or if you enjoy Kafka and absurdism in general, you will probably like this novel. 4.5/5 stars.


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