In some of these stories shadowy people pass through, cooped up by life, mangled by it, with nowhere to escape to. Their dreams lie stifled, smothered by routine and repetition, and frustrations lurk in all the corners. In others, elusive glimpses of fleeting happiness, which flutter away before they can be snatched, waylay their victims. Like the shimmer of the sea, the gleam of a glass caught by the sun, they sparkle brilliantly only to dissolve again.
Two of the stories, 'First Love' and 'Mademoiselle O', are autobiographical, and 'The Assistant Producer' is based on real events, but the rest are pure flights of fantasy - or the stuff that life is weaved of?
At their best they display a Lawrentian power of evocation, a Proustian depth of subtlty, sadness and loss
They broke boundaries and challenged conceptions. We asked you for your must-read classics; from iconic bestsellers to lesser-known gems, these are your essential recommends.
In this essay from his forthcoming collection, There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness, titled ‘Lolita and the Blue Icarus’, Carlo Rovelli writes about Nabokov’s foray into lepidoptery – and his surprising recognition as “a scientist of real worth”.