Praise for The Secret History

"A penetrating analysis certain to compel a major reassessment of the Nabokov canon."
— starred review, Booklist

"...a brilliant examination that adds to the understanding of an inspiring and enigmatic life."
— starred review, Kirkus

"Highly recommended for all Nabokov fans..."
— starred review, Library Journal

"Certainly the most remarkable and insightful book on Vladimir Nabokov in many years."
— Michael Maar, author of Speak, Nabokov and The Two Lolitas

"... an intriguing and provocative new take on one of the giants of modern American letters."
— Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion: 1914-1918 and other books

"... a feat of fascinating literary detective work ..."
— Christopher Goffard, author of You Will See Fire and Snitch Jacket

"A wide-ranging introduction to Nabokov's life and work as well as a game-changer for those readers who thought they knew his writing cold."
— Steven Belletto, author of No Accident, Comrade: Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives (Oxford U. Press)

Archive for the "Intermediate" Category

Nabokov and concentration camps, part II

During the course of writing The Secret History, I was staggered by the stories I heard from sources and translators whose family lives had been shaped in brutal ways by political prisons and concentration camps. Some, like Nabokov’s family, had fled Russia westward away from Revolution or pogroms, only to have to escape Germany or […]

Nabokov, concentration camps, and a century of civilian casualties

Vladimir Nabokov was born in 1899, less than three years after the first concentration camps were founded thousands of miles away in Cuba. What does Vladimir Nabokov—creator of decadent fiction and king of literary insults—have to do with concentration camps? It’s a reasonable question. Like Nabokov, concentration camps were born in the nineteenth century but […]

Madness, intimate violence, and Stalin’s Barber

Love him or hate him for it, but Nabokov excels at depicting the exquisite intimacy of violence and the deliberate way one person exerts power over another. (For those who have read Nabokov’s most famous book, just recall Humbert Humbert erasing Lolita’s humanity as he recounts his appalling behavior in the novel’s sofa scene.) A […]

The missing crown jewels

In Vladimir Nabokov’s 1962 novel Pale Fire, hidden crown jewels haunt the narrator, Charles Kinbote. The mad, self-absorbed Kinbote believes himself to be the exiled king of Zembla, a northern ruler overthrown by a Soviet-style neighbor. Throughout the book, Kinbote references agents searching the Zemblan castle for missing jewels, but the treasures never turn up, and […]