cover image Stalking Nabokov: Selected Essays

Stalking Nabokov: Selected Essays

Brian Boyd. Columbia Univ., $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-231-15856-5

In this collection of essays, lectures, and book reviews spanning 20 years since the publication of Boyd's two-volume biography of Nabokov, Boyd demonstrates that he continues to be our leading interpreter of this brilliant but enigmatic writer. With remarkable critical insight, Boyd reflects on a wide variety of subjects ranging from the art and craft of the biographer and Nabokov's famous love of butterflies to the novelist's humor, metaphysics, and the influence on him of other writers%E2%80%94from Shakespeare to Tolstoy. For example, Nabokov's "humor springs from "the comedy of life's mismatching our expectations.... Nabokov loves and laughs at life even amid loss." In a centennial toast, Boyd captures lovingly Nabokov's enduring appeal and the essence of his genius: "He believes that the fullness and the complexity of life suggest worlds within worlds within worlds, and he builds his own imagined universes to match... he allows us to find our own way to them, just as he thinks whatever lies behind life invites us to an endless adventure of discovery in and beyond life." Boyd's graceful style and passionate advocacy achieves the goal of the best literary criticism: it compels us to pick up Nabokov and read, or read again, the work of a master. (Sept.)