King, Queen, Knave

King, Queen, Knave

Vladimir Nabokov, Dmitri Nabokov

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0679723404

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The novel is the story of Dreyer, a wealthy and boisterous proprietor of a men's clothing emporium store.  Ruddy, self-satisfied, and thoroughly masculine, he is perfectly repugnant to his exquisite but cold middle-class wife Martha.  Attracted to his money but repelled by his oblivious passion, she longs for their nephew instead, the myopic Franz. Newly arrived in Berlin, Franz soon repays his uncle's condescension in his aunt's bed.

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rummaging in the lower drawer of the commode, and her own morose reflection in the mirror. She looked at a jewel in which an anniversary was coldly reflected, and remembered that her thirty-fourth birthday had passed the other day, and with a strange impatience began consulting her mirror to detect the threat of a wrinkle, the hint of a sagging fold. Somewhere a door closed softly, and the stairs creaked (they were not supposed to creak!), and her husband’s cheerful off-key whistle receded out of

won’t we? And the other rooms blue. And there’ll be a reception room with lots and lots of flowers. And an extra room upstairs, just in case, for guests, say.… For a wee little guest, maybe.” “What do you mean—‘upstairs’?” “Why, of course—it will be a villa.” “Ah, I see,” nodded Franz. “Let’s continue, darling. A detached villa, then. With a pretty entrance hall. We enter. Rugs, pictures, silverware, embroidered sheets. Right? And a garden, fruit trees. Magnolias. Is that so, Franz?” He

cry between “hep” and “help” meant to disguise the slight creak of its mechanism. Dreyer, hands clasped on his stomach, watched with soft emotion, as a sentimental visitor watches a child—perhaps his own little bastard—to whose first toddle he is being treated by a proud mother. The Inventor, who had let his beard grow and now looked like an Oriental priest in mufti, kept tapping his foot lightly in time to the movements of the little figure. “Goodness,” said Dreyer suddenly in a high-pitched

moment to a state of animal stupor. His day ran its course automatically but his nights were formless and full of terror. He took sleeping pills. The morning jolt of his alarm clock was like a coin dropped into a vending machine. He would rise; shuffle to the smelly toilet (a little dark hell in its own right), shuffle back, wash his hands, brush his teeth, shave, wipe the soap from his ears, dress, walk to the subway station, get on a non-smoking car, read the same old advertisement ditty

gave Franz a sidelong glance. Franz looked at the ground as he walked. “Where are you going?” asked Dreyer. “I live near here,” said Franz with an indefinite gesture. Dreyer was looking at him not unkindly. Let him look, thought Franz. Everything in life is senseless, and this walk is senseless too. “Fine, fine,” said Dreyer. “I think I’ve never been here. I cut through a wilderness of kitchen gardens, and then suddenly there were half-built houses all around me. By the way, you know what—why

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