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  People > V.Nabokov
The Nabokov-Wilson Correspondence
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Nabokov's relationship with Edmund Wilson was the most public of the close friendships of his American career. In the introduction to his edition of 264 letters exchanged by the pair (published by Harper & Row, 1979), Simon Karlinsky wrote that Nabokov's American career "can hardly be imagined without Wilson's help, advice and literary contacts." With Nabokov's first communication, in August 1940, Wilson became Nabokov's de facto literary agent, securing occasional book review assignments for him in The New Republic; arranging opportunities with other periodicals; introducing him to his first book publisher, James Laughlin, and later recommending him to other publishers;...

Ada, or Ardor. New York, 1969
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Nabokov once referred to Ada as his "most cosmopolitan and poetic novel." Simultaneously a family epic of the Russian aristocracy, a literary history of Russia, and a meditation on the nature of time, Ada is arguably Nabokov's most difficult book. It takes place on Anti-Terra, while the existence of Terra, our earth, is debatable. Nabokov's most complex novel linguistically and thematically, it is dense with games and deceptions, and with literary, historical, scientific, and cultural allusions. Derived from Russian, American, and Nabokovian contexts, it is written in Russian, French, and English. And the subject matter - a contented, incestuous love...

Poems and Problems. New York, 1970
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Poems and Problems includes thirty-nine of Nabokov's Russian poems with English translations printed on facing pages at his insistence; fourteen English poems, all of which had appeared in Doubleday's 1959 edition of Poems; and eighteen chess problems, with solutions. In his foreword, Nabokov contends that his Russian verse is far superior to his poetry in English: "Somehow, [the English poems] are of a lighter texture than the Russian stuff, owing, no doubt, to their lacking that inner verbal association with old perplexities and constant worry of thought which marks poems written in one's mother tongue, with exile keeping up its...

Strong Opinions. New York, 1973
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This assortment of twenty-two "interviews," eleven letters, nine articles, and five lepidopteral papers covers Nabokov's views on every facet of his multiple careers. As a result of his stringent rules for granting interviews, many of those printed in this volume borrow questions from one another, and contain responses that seem, by the last interview, familiar to the reader. Frequently visited topics are his writing process, his nationality, his politics, and Lolita's conception and reception. The "interviews" span a decade, 1962-72, and include the published and unpublished answers to questions by known journalists and "anonymous" questioners that had been prepared for...

Transparent Things. New York, 1972
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This novella, a National Book Award nominee, was published separately after first appearing in the December 1971 issue of Esquire. Reviewers scarcely knew what to make of this deceptively slim chaser to Ada, which had taken Nabokov over two years, off and on, to complete. With a complex network of disembodied narrators, it was inspired in part by Nabokov's stays in thin-walled hotel rooms that allowed him access to the unseen worlds of his neighbors. Finished on April Fool's Day, 1971, it was not issued in book form until the end of the following year. On publication day, he wrote...

Look at the Harlequins! New York, 1974
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Still largely overlooked in critical circles, Look at the Harlequins! recounts the autobiography of Vadim Vadimych N., whose life and work seem to parody the biography a wayward scholar might create of Nabokov himself. (He wrote in 1973 of Andrew Field's research: "It was not worth living a far from negligible life... only to have a blundering ass reinvent it.") This also recalls a lecture, "Pushkin, or the Real and the Plausible," that Nabokov delivered in 1937 on the evils of "fictionalized biographies." Reviews of Look at the Harlequins! were mixed; readers who had been put off or dismayed by...

Reading Nabokov by Brian Boyd, Reply by Robert M. Adams
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Professor Adams takes issue with my interpretation of Pale Fire without taking account of the evidence I present. "Shade has no notion at any point that there is to be a commentary," he writes. But Shade says in the poem that he cannot convey his ideas directly, but only through the interrelations between things ("Not text, but texture"), and that he has a habit, as he states in the poem's opening lines, of projecting himself beyond death, into an azure mirror world (Zembla is pointedly both "blue inenubilable Zembla" and "the land of reflections"). When he dies with only one...

Nabokov carried tradition of gentleman naturalist into mid-century
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Although writer Vladimir Nabokov often used a hand lens for his taxonomic study of butterflies, historian Daniel Alexandrov may be the first to treat Nabokov himself as a "lens," specifically to provide a view of fundamental changes in Western culture during the first half of the 1900s. "A Russian aristocrat, writer and scientist, Nabokov represents the features of a cultural world of 'aristocratic' natural history which blended aesthetics and science," said Alexandrov, a Center Research Fellow and historian of science from the European University of St. Petersburg. "Through the lens of Nabokov and entomology, I'm studying major changes in thought-style...

The Cinematography of Nabokov
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Developments in technology frequently have profound effects upon literature, and not merely in the sense that technological hardware appears in fictional works. Even the structure and style of literary work is reformed by the effect of the new technology upon the society of which writer and reader are part. A major case for this theory can be made by examining the effect of the development of cinematography upon literature. Many narrative techniques commonly associated with modern literature were first pioneered by early movie directors. Such effects include time distortion effects such as flashbacks, flashforwards and time compression, pacing effects such...

Nabokov as Translator
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Because human beings speak many thousands of mutually unintelligible languages, translation of materials from the languages in which they were originally written into the languages of those who would like to use them but could not read the original language has been an inescapable necessity. So long as the materials being translated are of a scientific or technical nature, it has been relatively clear how the translator should go about the process of translating them. In these works, the content of the text is concrete, easily definable, and of primary importance, and therefore can be rendered simply and adequately with...