Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich. respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.
With that opening line, Nabakov summarizes the entire plot line of Laughter in the Dark. This is the second Nabakov novel that I’ve read; the first being Lolita, which is one of my all time favorite novels. Laughter in the Dark pre-dates Lolita and has very similar themes, the most prominent of which is an older man becoming obsessed with an inappropriately young women. Margot, the focus of Albinus’s attentions is 16 and is fully aware of how she affects older men. Albinus pursues her and gets discovered by his wife who promptly leaves him and his life starts spiralling out of control as Margot becomes his puppet master.
I found Laughter in the Dark to be an engaging read. The tale was an ironic, dark comedy that is filled with disturbing, selfish characters. Albinus is a pathetic man who proves how little he cares for his family when he readily gives them up. Albinus enters into his deluded romance with the lovely, young, evil Margot. Margot manipulates Albinus into constantly getting her own way. The novel is definitely darker than Lolita. The novel was a very quick read since the only edition I could find was a really tattered one with gigantic font. ,
And…because I live to check things off lists, I can also check this book off as another one that I’ve read from the LOST Book Club list. Laughter in the Dark was shown in the LOST episode “Flashes Before Your Eyes” when Charlie takes the book from Sawyer’s pile of books and then gives it to Hurley who is shown reading it. I have to say, if I was going to be trapped on an island, I wouldn’t mind having some Nabakov novels with me to help pass the time.