It's not like the Nabokov I know to write a Russian book, but despite its Berlin setting, this is a very Russian book. There's a Dostoyevsky-like dinner scene, mentions of revolutions and Cossacks, stealing money from drawers and of course plenty of drunkenness. It's strange to get so much of it from an author that despite his origins, feels so American. Still, amidst all the uncharacteristic Russianness, there is a definite hint of what was to come in later Nabokov novels. There's some of the cynicism: "Vulgar little man," thought Ganin as he watched Alfyorov's twitching beard. "I bet his wife's frisky. It's a positive sin not to be unfaithful to a man like him."The cleverness:Back in his room he tried to read, but he found the contents of the book so alien and inappropriate that he abandoned it in the middle of a subordinate clause. He was in the kind of mood that he called ‘dispersion of the will.’And of course the descriptions that you have to read twice, both to understand them and to re-experience the chills you got reading them the first time:And in those streets, now as wide as shiny black seas, at that late hour when the last beer-hall has closed, and a native of Russia, abandoning sleep, hatless and coatless under an old mackintosh, walks in a clairvoyant trance; at that late hour down those wide streets passed worlds utterly alien to each other: no longer a reveler, a woman, or simply a passer-by, but each one a wholly isolated world, each a totality of marvels and evil.In short, it's early Nabokov but it's still Nabokov and as such, will bear reading and re-reading.