Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov wrote ‘The University Poem’ in 1926, four years after leaving Cambridge.

Poem: ‘The University Poem’

Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dmitri Nabokov, 7 June 2012

1 ‘So then you’re Russian? It’s the first time I have met a Russian …’ And the lively, delicately bulging eyes examine me. ‘You take your tea with lemon, I already know. I also know that you have icons where you live, and samovars.’ A pretty girl. A British glow spreads across her tender skin. She laughs, she speaks at a quick clip: ‘Frankly,...

Dear Poochums: Letters to Véra

Michael Wood, 23 October 2014

There’s​ a French translation of Anna Karenina that offers an interesting version of the novel’s first sentence. ‘Tous les bonheurs se ressemblent,’ it says, ‘mais...

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One of the attractions of Nabokov’s view of literature is that although (or because) he scoffed at any idea of readerly independence he scarcely ever wanted to separate the writer’s...

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Vlad the Impaler: Hairy Humbert

Inga Clendinnen, 10 August 2000

Ever since Lolita ignited the American literary scene in the late 1950s Vladimir Nabokov has been the most famous lepidopterist in the world – indeed, the only one most of us have ever...

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Icicles by Cynthia

Clarence Brown, 21 March 1996

That Plato was by nature a short-story writer, not a novelist, seems clear. Walt Whitman was a novelist, Chopin a writer of short stories. Michelangelo was a novelist, Picasso a writer of short...

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Rhino-Breeder

John Sturrock, 24 May 1990

Nabokov liked to write standing up (‘Piles,’ he told a fellow-teacher at Cornell, who thought it might be some short cut to creativity), and his letters reflect that inflexible...

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The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Stuck in the country, bored and vaguely discontented, with themselves, their lives or the way things are, half the heroes in Russian fiction appear to be waiting for something to happen while the...

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Protonymphet

Frank Kermode, 5 February 1987

This “long lost novel” isn’t a novel but a story of some twenty-five thousand words, here augmented by eight thousand from the pen of the translator, and by blank pages. The...

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The event that doesn’t occur

Michael Wood, 4 April 1985

Since his death in 1977, Nabokov has made three literary appearances: rather plodding affairs for such a gifted ghost, even allowing for their modest academic occasions and for the fact that the...

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These letters are a partial record of a literary friendship; and they offer more than the usual pleasure to be had from eavesdropping on the talk of eminent writers. Nabokov and Wilson had a few...

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