Books: Superior Amusement

BEND SINISTER (242 pp.) — Vladimir Nabokov—Holt ($2.75).

This novel, like Joseph Conrad's The Nigger of the Narcissus, shows how heady a wine the English language may be for a foreign writer of parts who has thoroughly acquired it. Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov's second novel in English (he has written seven in Russian), is one of the most intelligent nightmares of dictatorship in modern fiction. It is also a lip-smacking over the flavors of English prose to rouse the tired syntax in 10,000 editorials. Nabokov's style glimmers with reflections of many great styles (Gogol's, Flaubert's, Joyce's) and yet is distinctly his own:...

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