Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years

Brian Boyd, Author Princeton University Press $75 (607p) ISBN 978-0-691-06794-0
Boyd's intimate, magisterial, prodigiously researched biography pulverizes the notion that Nabokov was a minimalist, a solipsist or trickster with nothing to say. He views the Russian emigre novelist as a moral philosopher, ruthlessly skeptical of all traditions and conventions, who saw life as full of the promise of happiness if only we approach it with detachment. Nabokov's own life was one of massive disruptions--born to a wealthy Russian noble family, his politician father assassinated in 1922, the writer's existence became a succession of rented rooms, from Cambridge to Berlin to Paris. The ``true'' story of Nabokov's art, as told here, was how he invented the fictional forms to express his philosophy. With great empathy and verve, Boyd ( Nabokov's ``Ada'' ) tracks his metamorphosis up to 1940, when he, his Jewish wife and son fled Nazi-occupied France. Boyd has written a superb biography. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 619 pages - 978-0-691-02470-7
Hardcover - 804 pages - 978-0-691-06797-1
Paperback - 800 pages - 978-0-691-02471-4
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