Books: Great & Delightful Rarity

KING, QUEEN, KNAVE by Vladimir Nabokov. 272 pages. McGraw-Hill. $5.95.

This is Vladimir Nabokov's second novel, written and published in Russian in 1928, when he was a 28-year-old émigré living in Berlin. It was recently roughed into English by Nabokov's son Dmitri, then tightened and buffed to a cold brilliance by the author. "Of all my novels," says Nabokov, "this bright brute is the gayest. Expatriation, destitution, nostalgia had no effect on its elaborate and rapturous composition."

Actually, his later novels, notably Lolita and Pale Fire, are far more elaborate. Even Laughter in the...

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