Study Guide

A Russian Beauty Tough-o-Meter

By Vladimir Nabokov

Tough-o-Meter

Regular Mode: (2) Sea Level; Stealth Mode: (5) Tree Line

At first glance, "A Russian Beauty" is a piece of cake. It's a simple story about a pretty girl who never finds true love. Some things are weird about it, like the ending, but it's pretty easy to understand this riches to rags story. But that's on regular mode.

On stealth mode things get a little harder. All of a sudden you have to think about the historical references, the references to Nabokov's personal life, and the interpretations his audience of Russian émigrés will probably lend to the story. That's a different barrel of monkeys, and unless you're a Russian history buff, it's going to be way tougher to read this short story and understand what is really about.

We're not saying that one mode is better than the other. It's a pretty cool story, even on regular mode. But if you want to take the tougher path, we're right here to help you out.