Mashen'ka (Mary)

Mashen'ka, Nabokov's first novel, Slovo (Berlin), 1926; translation by the author and Michael Glenny published as Mary, McGraw-Hill, 1970; reprinted, Ardis, 1985. (Mary can be found in the collections of many public libraries and is available online from Amazon.com and from Barnes & Noble. Also published as a Penguin Classic by Penguin UK.)

"It seemed as though his past, in that perfect form it had reached, ran now like a regular pattern through his everyday life in Berlin. Whatever Ganin did at present, that other life comforted him unceasingly."

Ganin, a young Russian émigré living in a Berlin pension, lives a dull life among his fellow émigré boarders. He soon learns that the wife of one of the boarders, soon to arrive from Russia, is in fact his own first love. The intensity of his memories of Mary set in motion the actions of the novel. A novel of memory and loss, Mary is nostalgic for the past but realistic about the present. Its themes provide an interesting prelude to the themes of Nabokov's later work.

"... I realized as soon as my collaboration with Mr. Glenny started that our translation should be as faithful to the text as I would have insisted on its being had the text not been mine."
Nabokov, from his introduction

"What's very good, and belongs to this book alone, is its picture, realised with a fresh, loving eye, of the sadness and awfulness of Russian émigré life in 1920s Berlin."
Anita van Vactor

Announcing VN: Virtual Nabokov. An experimental draft of Virtual Nabokov, an on-line course on Nabokov's works, is now available. The first module of the course is devoted to Mary. Nabokov fans interested in a 'guided reading' of Nabokov's first novel are invited to try Virtual Nabokov.

Scholarly Criticism of Mary:

Kinbote, Charles. "Mashen'ka"
Nakata, Akiko. "Repetition and Ambiguity: Reconsidering Mary"
Toker, Leona. "Mary: 'Without Any Passport'"
A Bibliography of Critical Works on Mary
Maschenka, the film

WORKS

MARY | KING, QUEEN, KNAVE | THE DEFENSE
GLORY | LAUGHTER IN THE DARK | DESPAIR
THE GIFT | INVITATION TO A BEHEADING | THE EYE
THE ENCHANTER | THE REAL LIFE OF SEBASTIAN KNIGHT
BEND SINISTER | LOLITA | PNIN | PALE FIRE
ADA | TRANSPARENT THINGS | LOOK AT THE HARLEQUINS!
THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA


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