Stock Image

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Nabokov, Vladimir

3,775 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679727264 / ISBN 13: 9780679727262
Published by Vintage
Used Condition: Acceptable
From Hall Street Books (Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since November 26, 2008

Quantity Available: 1

Buy Used
Price: US$ 1.99 Convert Currency
Shipping: US$ 3.99 Within U.S.A. Destination, Rates & Speeds
Add to basket

30 Day Return Policy

About this Item

1992 - Paperback - Used - Acceptable - - - Shows some shelf-wear. Volume contains one or more of the following: highlighting, underlining or margin notes. However, text is still readable. May contain old price stickers or their residue, inscriptions or dedications from previous owners in first few pages and remainder marks. -. Bookseller Inventory # SA-07-8-0209

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Publisher: Vintage

Book Condition:Acceptable

About this title

Synopsis:

"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." -- John Updike

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is a perversely magical literary detective story -- subtle, intricate, leading to a tantalizing climax -- about the mysterious life of a famous writer. Many people knew things about Sebastian Knight as a distinguished novelist, but probably fewer than a dozen knew of the two love affairs that so profoundly influenced his career, the second one in such a disastrous way. After Knight's death, his half brother sets out to penetrate the enigma of his life, starting with a few scanty clues in the novelist's private papers. His search proves to be a story as intriguing as any of his subject's own novels, as baffling, and, in the end, as uniquely rewarding.

Review:

"I am very happy that you liked that little book," wrote Vladimir Nabokov to Edmund Wilson in 1941. "As I think I told you, I wrote it five years ago, in Paris, on the implement called bidet as a writing desk--because we lived in one room and I had to use our small bathroom as a study." The book in question was The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. And despite its humble origins, Nabokov's first novel in English showed him to be in absolute command of his adopted language.

Like many of the author's later triumphs, this one revolves around a question of identity. The late Sebastian Knight, we discover, was a transplanted Russian novelist whose taste for linguistic trickery bears a certain resemblance to Nabokov's. Now his half-brother is attempting to reconstruct the existence of this elusive figure. As he readily admits, the raw material isn't exactly the stuff of melodrama: "Sebastian's life, though far from being dull, lacked the terrific vigour of his literary style." But even the most mundane facts prove difficult for the narrator to nail down. He does, on the other hand, describe Sebastian's creative processes in exquisite and accurate detail:

His struggle with words was usually painful and this for two reasons. One was the common one with writers of his type: the bridging of the abyss lying between expression and thought; the maddening feeling that the right words, the only words are awaiting you on the opposite bank in the misty distance, and the shudderings of the still unclothed thought clamouring for them on this side of the abyss.
Sebastian's real life--or anybody's, for that matter--refuses to yield up a verbal equivalent. Still, the narrator manages a kind of fraternal fusion with his subject on the book's final page, which suggests a fluid and very Nabokovian view of identity itself. For this reason, and for the splendors of its prose, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is a necessary read. It's also safe to say that it's the very best novel ever written on a bidet. --James Marcus

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Store Description

Visit Seller's Storefront

Terms of Sale:

We're Hall Street Books ... proudly shipping from Brooklyn, NY, USA! We are
located at, and consumers can contact us at: 68 34th Street, Unit 4 Brooklyn, NY
11232 USA - orders@hallstreetbooks.com - 718-802-0443 ... Our authorized
representative is: F Smith, Manager. Purchase via ABE Payments.


Shipping Terms:

Orders usually ship within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express