Smurov, a fussily self-conscious Russian tutor, shoots himself after a humiliating beating by his mistress' husband. Unsure whether his suicide has been successful or not, Smurov drifts around Berlin, observing his acquaintances, but finds he can discover very little about his own life from the opinions of his distracted, confused fellow-émigrés. Nabokov's shortest novel, The Eye is both a satirical detective story and a wonderfully layered exploration of identity, appearance and the loss of self in a world of word-play and confusion.
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”.