Read e-book online The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov PDF

Read e-book online The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov PDF

By Andrea Pitzer

A startling and revelatory exam of Nabokov’s lifestyles and works—notably Pale Fire and Lolita—bringing new perception into one of many twentieth century’s so much enigmatic authors.

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov witnessed the horrors of his century, escaping progressive Russia then Germany below Hitler, and fleeing France together with his Jewish spouse and son simply weeks earlier than Paris fell to the Nazis. He many times confronted accusations of turning a blind eye to human discomfort to jot down crafty stories of depravity. yet does one of many maximum writers within the English language relatively deserve the label of amoral aesthete bestowed on him by way of such a lot of critics?

Using details from newly-declassified intelligence records and recovered army heritage, journalist Andrea Pitzer argues that faraway from being a proponent of paintings for art’s sake, Vladimir Nabokov controlled to conceal anxious historical past in his fiction—history that has long gone omitted for many years. Nabokov emerges as a type of documentary conjurer, spending the most efficient a long time of his profession recording a saga of forgotten focus camps and searing bigotry, from international conflict I to the Gulag and the Holocaust. Lolita surrenders Humbert Humbert’s mystery identification, and divulges a Nabokov appalled by way of American anti-Semitism. The lunatic narrator of Pale Fire recollects Russian tragedies that after haunted the area. From Tsarist courts to Nazi movie units, from CIA entrance businesses to wartime Casablanca, the tale of Nabokov’s family members is the tale of his century—and either are woven inextricably into his fiction.

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Sample text

Twice she came quite close to drowning. I thought of that, with the anxiety that had now invaded both our lives, as we approached the bank again, to scramble out. This had always been a more difficult and inelegant operation than slipping into the river, but it had never bothered us in the past. The river was as deep near the bank as in midstream, the bank itself undercut by the water’s flow. It shelved a little in our own corner, the soft clay occasionally imprinted by the hooves of drinking cattle.

In her shabby old one-piece swimsuit (actually two-piece, with a separate skirt and tunic top) she was an awkward and anxious figure, her socks trailing round her ankles. She was obstinate about not taking these off, and I gave up the struggle. A pleasure barge chugged slowly past, an elegant girl in a bikini sunning herself on the deck, a young man in white shorts at the steering-wheel. Both turned to look at us with a slight air of incredulity. I should not have been surprised if they had burst into guffaws of ill-mannered laughter, for we must have presented a comic spectacle – an elderly man struggling to remove the garments from an old lady, still with white skin and incongruously fair hair.

Iris always mildly disliked and avoided what used to be called vulgar or risqué jokes. Maybe the innocence of the bear rhyme pleased her – who can say what subtle feelings and distinctions from the past can be summoned back to her mind by something as childish – but perhaps as touching too – as the bear rhyme? My own memory had retained it despite my conscious wishes, which is something that often happens. I could recall now the small boy at school – I secretly thought him rather repulsive but was too polite to say so – who told me the rhyme with a knowing air of complacency, sure that it would be a hit with me.

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