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Literature / Laughter in the Dark

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Laughter in the Dark, originally titled Camera Obscura, is a 1932 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Its plot bears a surprising resemblance to that of Lolita, minus the controversial pedophilia elements. Originally in Russian, it was translated by Nabokov himself to English.

Set in the 1930's film industry, the plot deals with Albus Albinus, a middle-aged art crtic, who cheats on his wife with a younger lady, Margot. Axel Rex, an American cartoonist, falls in love with her, too. As expected for a Nabokov novel, everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

It was made into a movie in 1969.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Ephebophile: Margot is only 17 years old, while Albinus is probably in his late forties. Rex is younger, but still over 18.
  • Love Triangle: It gets messy.
  • The Hero Dies: Like Lolita, but with one key difference. Instead of a fight between the two men, like you'd expect, Margot is the one that kills Albinus.
  • Villain Protagonist: While he's not nearly as bad as Humbert, Albinus is still sort of an asshole, abandoning his wife for a not-even-barely-legal girl, jealous of Rex because Margot prefers him over him, etc.


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