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No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer is quite as beguiling as that of Vladimir Nabokov’s to Véra Slonim. She shared his delight at the enchantment of life’s trifles and literature’s treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humor of any woman he had met. From their first encounter in 1923, Vladimir’s letters to Véra chronicle a half-century-long love story, one that is playful, romantic, and memorable.
At the same time, the letters reveal much about their author. We see the infectious fascination with which Vladimir observed everything—animals, people, speech, landscapes and cityscapes—and glimpse his ceaseless work on his poems, plays, stories, novels, memoirs, screenplays, and translations. This delightful volume is enhanced by twenty-one photographs, as well as facsimiles of the letters and the puzzles and drawings Vladimir often sent to Véra.
With 8 pages of photographs and 47 illustrations in text
About the Author
VLADIMIR NABOKOV studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin. In 1940, he left France for America, where he wrote some of his greatest works, including Lolita (1955) and Pnin (1957), while also teaching at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. After returning to Europe in 1959, he wrote Pale Fire (1962) and Ada (1969) and translated his earlier Russian novels, stories and poems into English. He died in Switzerland in 1977.
OLGA VORONINA was deputy director of the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg and was the Nabokov Estate representative in Russia before receiving a PhD in Slavic languages and literatures from Harvard University. She is now assistant professor of Russian and director of the Russian and Eurasian Studies Program at Bard College.
BRIAN BOYD, University Distinguished Professor of English, University of Auckland, wrote an MA thesis that Vladimir Nabokov called “brilliant” and a PhD thesis that Véra Nabokov thought the best thing written about her husband to date. His biography of Nabokov won awards on four continents; his criticism has been translated into eighteen languages. He has edited Nabokov's English-language novels, autobiography, butterfly writings, and translations from Russian poetry.
“Extraordinary and wonderful.... Some of the most rapturous love letters anyone has ever written.” —The Spectator
“A self-portrait of the young Vladimir unvarnished by Nabokovian irony. The earliest letters, intoxicated with language and desire, are intoxicating to read.” —The New Yorker
“It is the prose itself that provides the lasting affirmation...the lavishness, the freely offered gift, of his divine energy.” —Martin Amis, The New York Times Book Review
“Letters to Véra, a five-decade epistolary love story, is like being handed a celebrity's unlocked iPhone. Pry away.... I still hope for Nabokovian romance.” —Elle
“A fascinating collection of correspondence.... A wife—and indeed, a son—who could inspire such caring and creative letters as these deserve to be included in Nabokov’s literary legacy.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Letters to Véra opens the workshop door and shows us Vladimir not in his accredited hard-shell case of genius but as a soft, vulnerable practicing writer.... Again and again, we see what Charles Kinbote, in Pale Fire, calls the magic of a mind ‘perceiving and transforming the world, taking it in and taking it apart, re-combining its elements.’” —Harper’s Magazine