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  People > V.Nabokov
Lankomumo reitingas Print version Print version
Early Life and Poems

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, into the "great classless intelligentsia" of old St. Petersburg. His father, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (V. D. Nabokov), a titled aristocrat, was a leader among liberal politicians and advocated democratic principles as a statesman and journalist. His mother, Elena Ivanovna Rukavishnikov, was a cultured and intellectual heiress. Educated at home by tutors and governesses, Nabokov was fluent in Russian, English, and French by the age of seven. When he entered school at eleven, he had already read all of Shakespeare in English, all of Tolstoy in Russian, and all of Flaubert in French. His early youth was divided between St. Petersburg, European coastal resorts (mainly the Riviera and Biarritz), and Vyra, his beloved summer haunt on his parents' country estate, which he lovingly preserved in several of his novels and in Speak, Memory, the autobiography he published in three versions over the course of fifteen years. In all these locales he engaged in the pursuits that permeate his fiction and memoirs: hunting butterflies, falling in love, and writing poems.

By the time he was fifteen, Nabokov was writing poetry prolifically. His first publication, documented only by his recollection of it, was a single poem he prepared for distribution to friends and family in 1914. In 1916 he inherited his own fortune (roughly $2 million today) and the grandest of several manors on the family estate. He then paid for the publication of Stikhi [Poems], a collection of sixty-eight love poems. Over the next several years he averaged nearly one poem every other day. The earliest wave was preserved by his mother in marbled notebooks; later, Nabokov kept his own composition journals. His first major collections, Grozd' [The Cluster] and Gorniy Put' [The Empyrean Path], both published in 1923, were culled from these sources.

The items listed below pertain to Nabokov's life and career and are the contents of the exhibition at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, on view from April 23 through August 21, 1999. This checklist, primarily of items from the Library's Nabokov Archive, is included here to provide a sense of the rich holdings in this special collection.

Vladimir Nabokov
Genealogical chart
Holograph manuscript, 1947?
Berg Collection

Vladimir Nabokov
Biographical notes on his early life
Holograph notes on three index cards, ca. 1948
Berg Collection

Vladimir Nabokov
Holograph manuscript, dated 1914, pasted into an album kept by Elena Ivanovna Nabokov, Vladimir Nabokov's mother, 1914-22
Inscribed by the author at a later date, "Summer 1914/ Vyra, Siverskaya/ Prov. of St P"
Berg Collection

V[ladimir] V. Nabokov
Stikhi [Poems]
St. Petersburg, 1916
Berg Collection

Vladimir Nabokov, St. Petersburg, 1915
Photographer unknown
Berg Collection

Vladimir Nabokov
Holograph notebook, St. Petersburg, August-September 1917
Berg Collection

Vladimir Nabokov
Metrical schema
Holograph notebook, Summer 1918
Berg Collection

Lankomumo reitingas

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1. Nabokov by Peter Shaw
2. Mashen
3. Lolita. Paris, 1955
4. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)
5. Vladimir Nabokov by Wilma Slaight
6. Berlin and Early Translations
7. A masterpiece of subtle literary meaning
8. Crimea and Cambridge
9. Reading Nabokov, James, Austen, Fitzgerald
10. Annotated version helps a lot
1. Nabokov by Peter Shaw
2. Lectures on Literature
3. Lolita. Paris, 1955
4. Lectures on Russian Literature
5. Lolita and Mr. Girodias by Vladimir Nabokov 2
6. Crimea and Cambridge
7. The Second Time Through
8. A masterpiece of subtle literary meaning
9. Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) - pen name Vladimir Sirin
10. Annotated version helps a lot