Despair, by Vladimir Nabokov

(Drawing by me)

I reread this book this month. Nabokov’s protagonists are always fascinating. The one is Despair, Hermann, is almost tragic in how desperately he hides from reality. In this he is like that other great unreliable narrator, Charles Kinbote from Pale Fire. And when people in the real world laugh and point a finger at this naked emperor, he chooses to recede into a reality where his garments are the finest, his wit awes his friends, and his intellect outwits the police.

You are never really certain if perhaps, deep down, he knows but continues to pretend. The monster gets his comeuppance and descends into despair. His fine plots are tangled. For all the world he is a bumbling crook but in his mind he is inches away from the perfect crime, bested only by bad luck.

Highly recommended to read and re-read.

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