If you have stumbled upon this tumblr-blog, then chances are you have recently visited The Millions: Tumblr Index: Your Guide to Artistic and Literary Tumblrs, Part III

This particular tumblr is no longer active. It shall forever remain a tribute to our misadventures through Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. 

Sister and I have migrated our blog over to http://www.nabokolia.com. Feel free to join us there. We continue to blog our way through Vladimir Nabokov’s bibliography. 

Thank you. 

Van Veen.

We just noticed that the lovely people over at The Millions listed Reading Ardor on their 'The Great Taxonomy of Literary Tumblrs: Round Two’. I noticed some activity on this particular tumblr the past week but couldn’t really account for our sudden popularity. Now I understand why. 

We love that people in the tumblr community share our passion for all things Nabokovian. And after you’ve finished reading our backlog of posts devoted to Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicles, we urge you to follow us at our new site: http://nabokolia.com/ We loved reading Ada so much that we decided to continue reading our way through the rest of Nabokov’s wonderful works. Thanks again to the people over at The Millions for generating interest and sending you to this page. We hope you’ll follow along and read with us as we venture into future Nabokovian works. 


Just a heads up for recent followers.

This blog is no longer active, we’ve migrated over to


Get your fix of Nabokov related commentary/humour/criticism/discussion. 


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This may be the end of our affair with Ada & Van but not our obsession with Vladimir Nabokov. Sarah and I have decided to make this an ongoing adventure. We enjoy Nabokov so much, we figure we might as well blog our way through his entire works. So head on over to www.nabokolia.com and feel free to join us as we read Nabokov works, Nabokov-related criticism, pretty much anything having to do with Nabokov. 

We’d like to thank those few of you who have followed us on our adventures as we’ve read Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and if you’re still interested, feel free to join us on the next undertaking. 


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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.


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Final Thoughts.

Four summers ago I decided to read Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov. Four years later and I’ve finally finished it. A novel that I had placed on my ‘Struggle’ list can finally be moved to ‘Finished.  

After three previous failed attempts I decided that I needed some help. At the start of this summer, I recruited my good friend Sarah. Sarah joined me willingly but I recall some early trepidations. But once I told her there was incest, she was hooked. :) 

Reading Ada has been a sheer joy. Often frustrating and yet filled with rewards for those with persistence. This is not a book to read lightly. The book demands that you pay attention. He wants you to take him seriously. This is not to say that the novel is one long serious dramatic piece. Ada is filled with a multitude of puns, anagrams, word-play, entendre, and much, much, more. Ada took us to another planet, a magic-carpet ride filled with summer picnics, fancy whore-houses, a continental tour of Europe, diamonds, hotels, pill-bottles, a downy neck, a shaded tree. 

There are moments when you absolutely want to throw it across the room and then there are those moments where you have to set the book down and take a breath, to let the line or passage you just read pass over you. To hold that line or passage for a moment longer is to suffer terribly. Nabokov threatens to overwhelm. The same way that ants swarm on a honey-covered spoon. 


I feel a little bit empty now. Reading something so challenging, so very dense, I looked forward to confronting Ada as the summer days turned. A battle that was always waiting for me at the end of the day. And yet, now it’s over.

Aside from reading one of the most epic of Russian masterpieces, I’ve also had the joy of deepening a friendship that I now consider very dear. Reading with Sarah has been the best. I laugh, groan, cry, smile… Thank you for joining me my dear. It has been a privilege and I look forward to the future. 

What’s next….


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Anonymous said: pardon me, but i just don't seem to understand the quote: “There are people who can fold a road map. Not this writer." could you please explain? thank you and i adore your blog btw.

Thank you so much for your question. We love hearing from people!

The quote comes as a single sentence paragraph in the midst of Van Veen’s long and convoluted discussion on the nature of time and its relation with space. 

At this particular junction, Van is arguing that while he cannot imagine space without time, he can imagine time without space. The line about the map is an example that perfectly encapsulates his affinity for time over space.

A map is an object and therefore a unit of space. It can be expanded and then made compact again. Spatially oriented people are able to unfold and refold those unwieldy horrors again and again without any problem. People like Van, however, who are time oriented, hopelessly wad the thing into a ball and shove it in the glove compartment.

I found it funny because after pages and pages of abstract metaphysical arguments with himself, Van actually said something I could understand, and as such, it brought clarity to the entire section.

This is the genius of Nabokov.

I hope this answers your question.

We’re thrilled that you’re enjoying the blog and we adore feedback (really, really adore it). Ada is about ready to be closed off now, but we’re not done with Nabokov. If you enjoyed Reading Ardor, please follow us over to our new site nabokolia.com where we’ll be continuing our reading and discussion of Nabokov’s works.



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The End. Their End.


…as they begin a suicide and “die into the finished book.” (Whether they do indeed die is disputed by critics, as the author says “if our time-racked flat-lying couple ever intended to die” ~wiki

I do not think there is a way to ascertain whether or not their death is literal (Ha! Sarah will get this joke.) or not, but I also think it doesn’t really matter. Their suicide by story is the perfect way for them to exit stage. We’re saved the tragedy of a “true” death. Rather, they’re transposed into words. And words are where Van & Ada have always felt the most at home. There they are untroubled by social/political taboos. No one can separate them, no one to interrupt their stolen trysts. They’re free from all restraint. And that is how I like to think of them.  


Wait a second…

I’ve heard the theory that every story out there is a variation on the same five plots, but I think this is worth pointing out.

Anyone with a yen to read, or write for that matter, an epic love story in the vein of Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook” should do the following.

1. Scrub that shit from your brain

2. Read Ada, or Ardor

Read it, struggle with it, put it down, pick it up again, talk about it, realize you’re almost at the end, find yourself inexorably pulled through to that last page.

Let those final words settle in your heart,

then put the book down,

and weep.


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Just when I’m thinking I could actually die of tedium, he throws out one of these…

"There are people who can fold a road map. Not this writer" - Van Veen

Is there any further need to explain why I’m ass over tea kettle in love with Nabokov?


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Part V in List Form (CONTAINS SADNESS)

Just a list of some note worthy events/plot points in Part V of Ada or Ardor.

  • I’m old. 
  • She’s old. 
  • I’m falling apart. 
  • Think about cheating on her. 
  • I don’t, it would kill me. 
  • Talk about our long affair. 
  • Set things to paper. 
  • Talk about the scandal it will cause. 
  • Talk some more about the adventures that were had. 
  • Suicide by story. 
End of Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov.
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Just a list of some note worthy events/plot points in Part IV of Ada or Ardor.

  • What is time?
  • What is space?
  • Time, space, blah blah blah. 
  • Driving a car. 
  • Time is this. 
  • Space is that. 
  • Blah blah blah. 
  • I’m here. 
  • Phone call. 
  • Sister. 
  • "Ewww…you’re fucking old. Oh…so am I." 
  • Remember how I was talking about space and time. “Yeah, we get it asshole.”
  • Time, space. 
  • Blah, blah. 
  • We’re so old. 
  • I can maybe fuck you, but I really am old.
End of Part IV. 

"This part consists of Van’s lecture on “The Texture of Time”, apparently transcribed from his reading it into a tape recorder as he drives across Europe from the Adriatic to meet Ada in Montreux, Switzerland, while she is on her way from America via Geneva. The transcription has then been edited to merge into a description of his and Ada’s actual meeting, and then out again. This makes this part of the novel notably self-reflexive, and it is sometimes cited as the “difficult” part of the novel, some reviewers even stating that they wished Nabokov had “left it out.”"

The Wikipedia entry on Part IV - Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov


Just a list of some note worthy events/plot points in Part III of Ada or Ardor.

  • Time passes. 
  • Travel around Europe. 
  • Run into old gf. 
  • Small talk. 
  • Tell old gf you’re ready to fuck old gf. 
  • Fuck old gf. 
  • Run into your sister’s sister. 
  • Flirt with your sister’s sister. 
  • Mail some letters. 
  • Some people die. 
  • Travel around Europe. 
  • I’m on a boat. 
  • Run into your sister’s sister.
  • Small world. 
  • Think about fucking your sister’s sister. 
  • Watch a movie. 
  • Get horny. 
  • Answer the phone. 
  • Your one sister you never fucked just killed herself, oops. 
  • Drama, trauma, emotion. Serious chapter.
  • Feel sad. 
  • More people die. 
  • Run into your other sister, the one you constantly fuck. 
  • Awkward dinner party. 
  • Think about killing your sister’s husband. 
  • Jealous as fuck.
  • Fuck your sister. 
  • Fuck her a lot. 
  • I hate my sister-in-law. 
  • Fuck my sister a little bit more. 
  • Duel. 
  • Sister’s husband finally dies. What a bore. 
End of Part III. 
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The word you’re looking for is “penetration”. 

The word you’re looking for is “penetration”. 

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