Final thoughts, continued…
G captures the plot and feel of Ada rather elegantly, so rather than attempt my own summary that will likely sag in all the wrong places, I’ll let his stand.
Now for my last thoughts before we close off Reading Ardor.
There’s something humbling about a novel that doesn’t make it easy, that considers lazy reading a serious character flaw, and lazy readers a waste of epidermis. Ada, or Ardor is that novel. It expects you to pay attention and will cheerfully piss on you if you don’t.
Ada took me on an exhausting emotional journey, specifically because of this thing Nabokov does. He moves through the story, punning, jabbing, criticizing and being a terribly witty old bastard. You settle into the rhythm, find yourself smiling, hoping, and falling in love…then he’ll wind up and deliver a kidney punch that’ll make you cry. Those moments of grief, love, heartbreak and joy are among the most powerful I’ve ever read.
As for the ending, I believe both Van and Ada commit suicide. They discuss what happens after you die, and they debate who should go first, what would be ideal. Ultimately they decide to go together, and take the chance that they’ll find each other afterward. The doctor finds Van and Ada dead on their bed with the marked up galley of Ada. The doctor, who has come to care for the ‘flat-lying couple’, feels it’s only right that they die into their story. The doctor is the unnamed third editor of Ada, and the one who sees the work to its finish.
In those last two pages, I felt myself rushing back in time with Van and Ada, back to Ardis, to the happiest time in their life. Nabokov is capable of brutal sadism where the reader’s heart is concerned, but by contrast, Van and Ada are given a gentle end. Their story fades out peacefully, on a note of love.
The experience of Ada has been so much more than the study of a difficult book. Ada chronicles a family, and Reading Ardor chronicles a friendship. The bond that has grown out of reading, weeping, laughing, perving and punning with G., is one I treasure. It’s been an intense get-to-know-you process. We’re talking daily emails, tweeting about #incest, intoxicated cross-country literary discussions, family/relationship drama, commiserating over the deaths of MCA and Ray Bradbury, side reading about space pirates, and some truly horrifying Disney porn, but always it came back to Nabokov, to Ada.
Thanks G., for getting me on board, for gently taking my blogging virginity, and for starting us off as we now mean to go on. I know you’re as wrung out as I am at the moment, which only proves what we already knew.
Stories have power. Some of them can change your life.