cover image Vladimir Nabokov: Selected Letters, 1940-1977

Vladimir Nabokov: Selected Letters, 1940-1977

Vladimir Nabokov. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $29.95 (582pp) ISBN 978-0-15-164190-1

Nabokoviana for fans of VN's every facet turns up throughout this comprehensive collection of letters gathered by the author's son and Bruccoli ( Some Sort of Grandeur). Extending from the author's 1940 arrival in America to his death in Switzerland in 1977, the letters are written mainly to publishers, literary friends and editors. They reveal Nabokov's sure sense of himself as a major literary figure (a reminder to publisher M. Girodias: ``I wrote LOLITA.''), provide glimpses of his politics (``I never have attended, nor ever will attend, any function to which Soviet agents are invited.''), his teaching career at Wellesley and Cornell, and his lepidopteran pursuits. Of particular interest is the anguished attention required to find publishers for Lolita ; he called the complex legalities surrounding that book ``lolitigating.'' Letters to New Yorker editor Katherine White evince a warm mutual regard; Nabokov's exasperated affection for Edmund Wilson is another theme. Revealing his spleenic side, his good humor and above all his wit (he said titling a translation of Gogol ' s Dead Souls as Home Life was ``like calling a version of ` Fleurs du Mal'--`The Daisychain.' ''), this collection presents an intimate, invaluable view of the writer writing. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Sept.)