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Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

by Stacy Schiff

  • ISBN: 9780375755347
  • ISBN10: 0375755349

Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

by Stacy Schiff

  • List Price: $18.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Publish date: 04/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780375755347
  • ISBN10: 0375755349
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Description: Russian refugees both, Vera and Vladimir Nabokov married in Berlin in 1925. From that year on they came -- and went -- as a couple. They shared a datebook; their handwritings invade each other's notebooks. Friends, colleagues, relatives, publishers agreed he would have been nowhere without her. Even when the marriage nearly foundered on the old formula of the Other Woman, Nabokov wrote his wife daily.

In Berlin, until a hair-raising 1938, she supported the family. At Cornell, she attended every one of her husband's lectures, replacing him when he was sick. (Slyly, he introduced the mysterious, white-haired beauty to his students as "my assistant.") She drove the Buick in the back seat of which he composed Lolita; she was the woman who stayed at all of Humbert Humbert's motel rooms. Several times she saved the manuscript of that novel from burning. She transcribed her memories of their son's early days so that Nabokov could draw on them for Speak, Memory. She sat alone at the negotiating table when it came time to work out a McGraw-Hill contract for his future titles. She corrected her husband's stories in German, his memoir in French, his poetry in Italian -- and rendered Pale Fire into Russian, when in her eighties.

At the same time, she did everything in her power to erase herself from the record. She demanded her husband's biographers leave her out of his story, and they -- all writing in her lifetime -- bowed to her wishes. For his part, Nabokov lit up around Vera, he played off of her. He wrote his novels first for himself, second for Vera, third for no one at all. On the subject of her literary influence he was as clear as an opaque man can be: "Most of my works have beendedicated to my wife, and her picture has often been reproduced by some mysterious means of reflected color in the inner mirrors of my books."

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