• The cover of the book Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

    Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

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    Stacy Schiff won a Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Nabokov’s fiercely loyal wife Véra, partly because her subject is so brilliant and fascinating, and partly because Schiff, the author of Cleopatra: A Life and the recent The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem, is such a skilled writer. Her work here is both a scholarly and a literary achievement, showing a completely different side to the Nabokov mythology than previously seen. Her Véra is a tough, intelligent counterpart to her famous husband. Nabokov once said, “Without my wife, I wouldn’t have written a single novel.” And Schiff, obviously, wouldn’t have written her great biography. We can thank Véra for both.

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  • The cover of the book Letters to Véra

    Letters to Véra

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    If, for whatever reason, Schiff’s excellent book doesn’t sell you on the love between Vladimir and Véra, then let this wonderful companion volume settle the dispute. Edited by Olga Voronina and (what do you know?) Brian Boyd, Letters to Véra unambiguously depicts the rare connection between the two. At one point, Vladimir asks his wife, whom he sometimes refers to as “my enchantment,” to “focus and try to tell me which two pictures are hanging in my room” as “an experiment in telepathy.” He imagined that through sheer mental communication over a great distance, Véra could tell him the answer to his question. Even if this is an absurd idea, the very fact that Nabokov thought about this enough to write it to her shows just how strong their bond was.

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  • The cover of the book Speak, Memory

    Speak, Memory

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    And now, from the man himself: Speak, Memory is Nabokov’s autobiography, but this being Nabokov, it’s not exactly a straightforward literary experience. Filled with detailed descriptions of his creative developments, Speak, Memory is presented as a series of discursive episodes, roving through his family history, his love of butterflies, his love of Véra, and his years in America. There’s even a chess problem in there. Some of it’s impressionistic, some of it likely fictional, but as rendered in Nabokov’s inimitable stylistic verve, this memoir is as playful and enriching as anything the great master wrote.

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  • The cover of the book Vintage Nabokov

    Vintage Nabokov

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    To begin with, we’ve got to get to know Nabokov the writer in order to care about his life. Vintage Nabokov offers an apt selection of the inimitable author’s eclectic oeuvre, from Lolita to his brilliant short stories.

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  • The cover of the book Selected Poems

    Selected Poems

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    While Vintage Nabokov gives you a good sense of his fiction, it leaves out Nabokov’s great love: poetry. Lesser known than his novels and stories, Nabokov’s poetry is nonetheless the work of a master craftsman.

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  • The cover of the book Speak, Nabokov

    Speak, Nabokov

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    Maar’s book aptly delves into Nabokov’s life and work, providing a rich overview of the polymath’s idiosyncratic existence, his beguiling artistic talents, and his peculiar behavior. Maar also analyzes the novels, stories, essays, and poems with the acumen of, well, of Nabokov himself.

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  • The cover of the book A Hero of Our Time

    A Hero of Our Time

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    One aspect of Nabokov’s literary interests that is often overlooked is his translation work. With A Hero of Our Time, the classic Russian adventure tale from 1840, Nabokov—who translated the work with his son—shows that not only could he create his own art, but that he could handle the work of others with just as much skill and delicacy.

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  • The cover of the book The Feud

    The Feud

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    His friendship with Edmund Wilson, the most noted literary critic of the first half of the twentieth century, is legendary, but a great deal of that stems not from the relationship that existed but the way in which it ended so catastrophically. Alex Beam takes the reader deep into the minds and careers of these two enormous figures, and finds fragile egos, bruised pride, and stubbornness on a grand scale. It all began when Nabokov published his translation of Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel Eugene Onegin, which Wilson, who has once been Nabokov’s greatest champion, vituperatively panned in the New York Review of Books. Nabokov responded in kind, and from there, an important friendship between these two towering literary talents began to swiftly, spectacularly, crash.

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