Vladimir Nabokov (April 22, 1899 - July 02, 1977)
Born: 2nd April, 1899
Died: 2nd July, 1977
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Novelist
Region: St. Petersburg, Russia
Notable works: "Invitation to a Beheading", "Pale Fire", "Speak, Memory", "King, Queen, Knave", "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight", "Pnin", "The Gift", "Lolita", "Bend Sinister", "The Original of Laura"

Vladimir Nabokov Facts

Biography

Vladimir Nabokov, in full Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, (born April 22, 1899, St. Petersburg, Russia—died July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switzerland), Russian-born American novelist and critic, the foremost of the post-1917 émigré authors. He wrote in both Russian and English, and his best works, including Lolita (1955), feature stylish, intricate literary effects.

Early life and work

Nabokov was born into an old aristocratic family. His father, V.D. Nabokov, was a leader of the pre-Revolutionary liberal Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets) in Russia and was the author of numerous books and articles on criminal law and politics, among them The Provisional Government (1922), which was one of the primary sources on the downfall of the Kerensky regime. In 1922, after the family had settled in Berlin, the elder Nabokov was assassinated by a reactionary rightist while shielding another man at a public meeting; although his novelist son disclaimed any influence of this event upon his art, the theme of assassination by mistake has figured prominently in Nabokov’s novels. Nabokov’s enormous affection for his father and for the milieu in which he was raised is evident in his autobiography Speak, Memory (revised version, 1967).

Nabokov published two collections of verse, Poems (1916) and Two Paths (1918), before leaving Russia in 1919. He and his family made their way to England, and he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, on a scholarship provided for the sons of prominent Russians in exile. While at Cambridge he first studied zoology but soon switched to French and Russian literature; he graduated with first-class honours in 1922 and subsequently wrote that his almost effortless attainment of this degree was “one of the very few ‘utilitarian’ sins on my conscience.” While still in England he continued to write poetry, mainly in Russian but also in English, and two collections of his Russian poetry, The Cluster and The Empyrean Path, appeared in 1923. In Nabokov’s mature opinion, these poems were “polished and sterile.”

Novels: The Defense, Lolita, and The Gift

Between 1922 and 1940 Nabokov lived in Germany and France, and, while continuing to write poetry, he experimented with drama and even collaborated on several unproduced motion-picture scenarios. A five-act play written 1923–24, Tragediya gospodina Morna (The Tragedy of Mr. Morn), was published posthumously, first in 1997 in a Russian literary journal and then in 2008 as a stand-alone volume. By 1925 he settled upon prose as his main genre. His first short story had already been published in Berlin in 1924. His first novel, Mashenka (Mary), appeared in 1926; it was avowedly autobiographical and contains descriptions of the young Nabokov’s first serious romance as well as of the Nabokov family estate, both of which are also described in Speak, Memory. Nabokov did not again draw so heavily upon his personal experience as he had in Mashenka until his episodic novel about an émigré professor of Russian in the United States, Pnin (1957), which is to some extent based on his experiences while teaching (1948–58) Russian and European literature at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

His second novel, King, Queen, Knave, which appeared in 1928, marked his turn to a highly stylized form that characterized his art thereafter. His chess novel, The Defense, followed two years later and won him recognition as the best of the younger Russian émigré writers. In the next five years he produced four novels and a novella. Of these, Despair and Invitation to a Beheading were his first works of importance and foreshadowed his later fame.

During his years of European emigration, Nabokov lived in a state of happy and continual semipenury. All his Russian novels were published in very small editions in Berlin and Paris. His first two novels had German translations, and the money he obtained for them he used for butterfly-hunting expeditions (he eventually published 18 scientific papers on entomology). But until his best seller Lolita, no book he wrote in Russian or English produced more than a few hundred dollars. During the period in which he wrote his first eight novels, he made his living in Berlin and later in Paris by giving lessons in tennis, Russian, and English and from occasional walk-on parts in films (now forgotten). His wife, the former Véra Evseyevna Slonim, whom he married in 1925, worked as a translator. From the time of the loss of his home in Russia, Nabokov’s only attachment was to what he termed the “unreal estate” of memory and art. He never purchased a house, preferring instead to live in houses rented from other professors on sabbatical leave. Even after great wealth came to him with the success of Lolita and the subsequent interest in his previous work, Nabokov and his family (he and his wife had one son, Dmitri) chose to live (from 1959) in genteelly shabby quarters in a Swiss hotel.

The subject matter of Nabokov’s novels is principally the problem of art itself presented in various figurative disguises. Thus, The Defense seemingly is about chess, Despair about murder, and Invitation to a Beheading a political story, but all three works make statements about art that are central to understanding the book as a whole. The same may be said of his plays, Sobytiye (“The Event”), published in 1938, and The Waltz Invention. The problem of art again appears in Nabokov’s best novel in Russian, The Gift, the story of a young artist’s development in the spectral world of post-World War I Berlin. This novel, with its reliance on literary parody, was a turning point: serious use of parody thereafter became a key device in Nabokov’s art.

Nabokov’s first novels in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) and Bend Sinister (1947), do not rank with his best Russian work. Pale Fire (1962), however, a novel consisting of a long poem and a commentary on it by a mad literary pedant, extends and completes Nabokov’s mastery of unorthodox structure, first shown in The Gift and present also in Solus Rex, a Russian novel that began to appear serially in 1940 but was never completed. Lolita (1955), with its antihero, Humbert Humbert, who is possessed by an overpowering desire for very young girls, is yet another of Nabokov’s subtle allegories: love examined in the light of its seeming opposite, lechery. Ada (1969), Nabokov’s 17th and longest novel, is a parody of the family chronicle form. All his earlier themes come into play in the novel, and, because the work is a medley of Russian, French, and English, it is his most difficult work. (He also wrote a number of short stories and novellas, mostly written in Russian and translated into English.)

Later works and influence

Nabokov’s major critical works are an irreverent book about Nikolay Gogol (1944) and a monumental four-volume translation of, and commentary on, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (1964). What he called the “present, final version” of the autobiographical Speak, Memory, concerning his European years, was published in 1967, after which he began work on a sequel, Speak On, Memory, concerning the American years.

As Nabokov’s reputation grew in the 1930s so did the ferocity of the attacks made upon him. His idiosyncratic, somewhat aloof style and unusual novelistic concerns were interpreted as snobbery by his detractors—although his best Russian critic, Vladislav Khodasevich, insisted that Nabokov’s aristocratic view was appropriate to his subject matters: problems of art masked by allegory.

Nabokov’s reputation varies greatly from country to country. Until 1986 he was not published in the Soviet Union, not only because he was a “White Russian émigré” (he became a U.S. citizen in 1945) but also because he practiced “literary snobbism.” Critics of strong social convictions in the West also generally hold him in low esteem. But within the intellectual émigré community in Paris and Berlin between 1919 and 1939, V. Sirin (the literary pseudonym used by Nabokov in those years) was credited with being “on a level with the most significant artists in contemporary European literature and occupying a place held by no one else in Russian literature.” His reputation after 1940, when he changed from Russian to English after emigrating to the United States, mounted steadily until the 1970s, when he was acclaimed by a leading literary critic as “king over that battered mass society called contemporary fiction.”

The Original of Laura

When Nabokov died in 1977, he left behind a stack of index cards filled with the text of what was to become his final novel, The Original of Laura. On his deathbed, he instructed his wife, Véra, to burn the unfinished work. She instead placed it in a Swiss bank vault, where it remained the object of much speculation for three decades. With Véra’s death in 1991, responsibility for the final work fell to the Nabokovs’ son, Dmitri. In 2008 he announced his decision to allow its publication. The Original of Laura, which the younger Nabokov referred to as “the most concentrated distillation” of his father’s creativity, was released in 2009. Though it proved to be in a highly incomplete state, the text was nevertheless marked by Nabokov’s celebrated facility with allusion and wordplay. The story revolves around an obese intellectual, Philip, and his young, wild wife, Flora, who is the seeming subject of a scandalous novel written by one of her former lovers. The work also offers a view of Nabokov’s final writings on the theme of mortality, as Philip courts his own end via an act of “auto-dissolution,” a kind of willed erasure.

A collection of Nabokov’s missives to his wife was published as Letters to Véra (2015).

Top 43 Vladimir Nabokov quotes

I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
I think
Love
Matter
Memory
More
Stranger
Stronger
Think
You
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
Become
Being
Being there
Blank
Feeling
Ink
Invisible
Miraculous
Pages
Still
Visible
Words
Written
I confess, I do not believe in time.
Believe
Confess
Time
Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.
Death
Even
Great
Greater
Life
Life is a
See
Should
Sunrise
Why
You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
Always
Count
Fancy
Prose
Style
You
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Crime
Cruelty
Music
Oppression
Simple
Soft
Stupidity
Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
Book
Essence
Great
Great ideas
Ideas
Structure
Style
There are aphorisms that, like airplanes, stay up only while they are in motion.
Airplane
Aphorism
Like
Motion
Only
Stay
Up
While
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
Above
Abyss
Between
Brief
Common
Crack
Cradle
Darkness
Existence
Light
Our
Rocks
Sense
Tells
It is a short walk from the hallelujah to the hoot.
Hoot
Short
Walk
A novelist is, like all mortals, more fully at home on the surface of the present than in the ooze of the past.
Fully
Home
Like
More
Mortals
Novelist
Past
Present
Surface
Than
Genius is an African who dreams up snow.
African
Dreams
Genius
Snow
Up
Who
Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature, should be limited. In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much.
Delight
Enjoy
Enjoy life
Imagination
Immature
Immortal
Life
Limited
Much
Should
Supreme
Too
Too much
The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.
Breaking
Cannot
Explain
Sea
Wave
Whole
Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution.
More
Perilous
Revelation
Revolution
Than
Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.
Game
Lesson
Parody
Satire
Caress the detail, the divine detail.
Caress
Detail
Divine
There is only one school of literature - that of talent.
Literature
Only
School
Talent
Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.
Butterflies
Known
Literature
Man
Passions
Sweetest
Two
Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.
Existence
Masterpiece
Obscure
Series
Unfinished
Vast
A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.
Imagination
Poet
Precision
Scientist
Should
Writer
Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.
Involves
Irrational
Mysteries
Perceived
Poetry
Rational
Through
Words
Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
Associated
Nothing
Once
Past
Smell
I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child.
Author
Child
Distinguished
Genius
I think
I write
Like
Speak
Think
Write
A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.
Art
Importance
Important
Individual
Only
Society
Whatever
Work
To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.
Accept
Art
Brute
Magic
Only
Over
Play
Power
Prefer
Safe
Trash
Triumph
It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail.
Administrative
Bloodshed
Detail
Exceed
Hard
Harder
Including
Loathe
Massacre
More
Nature
Only
States
Still
Happy is the novelist who manages to preserve an actual love letter that he received when he was young within a work of fiction, embedded in it like a clean bullet in flabby flesh and quite secure there, among spurious lives.
Actual
Among
Bullet
Clean
Embedded
Fiction
Flabby
Flesh
Happy
He
Letter
Like
Lives
Love
There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.
Activity
Bath
Communal
Group
Hairy
Loathe
Mediocrity
Mix
More
Nothing
Slippery
Than
Where
World
I would like to spare the time and effort of hack reviewers and, generally, persons who move their lips when reading.
Effort
Generally
Hack
Like
Lips
Move
Persons
Reading
Reviewers
Spare
Time
Who
Would
The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.
Evolution
Nonsense
Sense
A masterpiece of fiction is an original world and as such is not likely to fit the world of the reader.
Fiction
Fit
Likely
Masterpiece
Original
Reader
World
All my stories are webs of style and none seems at first blush to contain much kinetic matter. For me style is matter.
Blush
Contain
First
Matter
Me
Much
None
Seems
Stories
Style
Web
Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.
Before
Being
Complacency
Exists
Mind
Only
Retrospective
Shattered
State
No author has created with less emphasis such pathetic characters as Chekhov has.
Author
Characters
Chekhov
Created
Emphasis
Less
Pathetic
Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm.
Am
Cheated
Ends
Feel
Happy
Harm
Hate
I am
Norm
People
Some
Some people
Them
I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.
Anybody
Cannot
Conceive
Go
His
How
Mind
Right
Right mind
Should
Turning one's novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
Been
Finished
Framed
Like
Long
Making
Movie
Novel
Painting
Rather
Script
Series
Sketches
Turning
Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.
Exhilarating
More
Nothing
Philistine
Than
Vulgarity
I have often noticed that after I had bestowed on the characters of my novels some treasured item of my past, it would pine away in the artificial world where I had so abruptly placed it.
After
Artificial
Away
Bestowed
Characters
Had
Item
Noticed
Novels
Often
Past
Pine
Placed
Some
The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.
Admirable
Book
Boy
Composed
Conceived
Girl
Good
Himself
Mind
Reader
The more gifted and talkative one's characters are, the greater the chances of their resembling the author in tone or tint of mind.
Author
Chances
Characters
Gifted
Greater
Mind
More
Resembling
Talkative
Tint
Tone
Discussion in class, which means letting twenty young blockheads and two cocky neurotics discuss something that neither their teacher nor they know.
Class
Cocky
Discuss
Discussion
Know
Letting
Means
Neither
Nor
Something
Teacher
Twenty
Two
Which

Vladimir Nabokov books

Pale Fire

Pale Fire

Lolita

Lolita

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

The Eye

The Eye

Letters to Véra (Vintage International)

Letters to Véra (Vintage International)

Pnin

Pnin

Despair

Despair

Laughter in the Dark

Laughter in the Dark

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited

Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov

Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov

Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

Lectures on Don Quixote

Lectures on Don Quixote

Vladimir Nabokov essays

Read more informative topics on our blog
How To Write An Acrostic Poem
What is an Acrostic Poem? A poem or series of lines in which letters of each line, form a name, word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet. For example: Some Never Armor Killing Each other The first letters of the poem spell out the word “snake.” When we talk about poetry, we often think that it should be rhymed. In fact, there are many styles of poetry that are very different from each other. Acrostic poem is one of them. It is a unique poem, which do not necessarily have to rhyme.  History  The earliest examples of acrostics can be found in the Hebrew Bible...
Lolita: Adrian Lyne Movie versus Novel
Lolita, a movie aimed by Adrian Lyne and compiled by Stephen Schiff was released in 1997, an version of the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The entire year the movie came out let it have more room for being more open up about sexuality and love presented in the e book. There are lots of similarities between your novel and the movie; however there are also many dissimilarities and many things are left out of the movie that play a huge role in the publication. I feel that the concentration of the film and the reason behind which makes it was to really penetrate the psychological depths of the novel and bring..
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov Dissertation
Vladimir Nabokov, one of many 20th century's greatest copy writers, is a extremely aesthetic article writer. Most of his work reveals an amazing desire for and skill for language. He deceptively uses vocabulary in Lolita to face mask and associated with forbidden divine. Contextually, Lolita may be considered as a book about specific sexual desire. Yet , it is the dubious desire of a stepfather pertaining to his 12-year old stepdaughter. The novel's subject undoubtedly conjures up expectations of porn material, but right now there in not only a single indecent term in Lolita. Nabokov..
Essay about Lolita by simply Vladimir Nabokov
Can easily something therefore controversial and disguising be regarded for having merit? Many people have quarreled over this kind of matter and formulated acute positions. Some have taken all their opinions for the extreme by advocating to get the removal of the distasteful topic from materials; while others believe though the articles is plebeyo, there is a great intended meaning the author wishes to express. We would have to affiliate with the latter of these two positions. Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is one such book that has made concern over its doubtful subject matter. On the surface,..
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