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 "Beginner" Category

From the USSR to the OSS: Nicholas Nabokov’s naturalization file

Next up in the Records series of archival material is the naturalization paperwork of Nicholas Nabokov. Nicholas was Vladimir Nabokov’s first cousin on his father’s side. A classical music composer who studied at the Sorbonne, he worked with several legendary cultural figures, including Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev. Nicholas came to America in 1933, several years before Vladimir […]

Speak, playthings: Nabokov’s synesthesia and memory

For some people, sound has taste. Vladimir Nabokov saw the alphabet in color. Both are examples of synesthesia, in which a person experiences a second, paired sensation accompanying an initial different kind of sensory input. A study out last month in Psychological Science suggests that though it is possible synesthesia is hardwired into individuals, many […]

Véra Nabokov’s immigration file

Last week, I wrote up Vladimir Nabokov’s immigration file as the first in a series of archival materials that will appear on the Records page of this website. Today, I wanted to highlight a few details from the file of his wife, Véra Nabokov. Véra had the same strange discrepancy in recorded height that appeared […]

Vladimir Nabokov’s immigration file

It’s pretty neat what you can learn from government archives. The first image series to be posted on the Records page of this site is Vladimir Nabokov’s immigration file, with documents spanning 1940 to 1945. Aside from pictures of the author, which are always interesting, the government forms offer their own sly narrative of Nabokov’s […]

A rough democracy of hats: Nabokov’s father and Russia between the revolutions

When most people think of the Russian Revolution, they think of 1917, the fall of the Romanovs, and the Bolshevik takeover. But before that Revolution (which was actually two revolutions, months apart), there was another one. More than a year into a disastrous war with Japan, and after months of strikes and bitterness over protesters killed in […]

Why we need a Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov

Why focus on Nabokov? And why now? These are questions I’ve been asked by everyone from prospective publishers to strangers who have heard I’m writing a book. Because there was no shortage of drama in his life, stories about Nabokov have endless potential. He fled the aftermath of the Russian Revolution with Bolsheviks firing machine […]