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)

Nabokov playing cards: your chance to weigh in (and win a prize)

I have several projects only tangentially related to The Secret History  simmering in the background, from a Nabokov novel generator that’s in process (no kidding) to a potential annotation effort. But with so many possibilities out there, why stop now?

At a few points this summer, I’ll be forced away from the computer. And while there’s always plenty to read and a next book to start, it’s good for a girl to keep her nose out of the books every now and then.

In a prior life, I was a painter (see left). And in the spirit of the decks of cards Maria Popova has featured over at Brain Pickings, I was thinking that it might be interesting to come up with a set for Nabokov.

I have some early glimmerings, but this is the kind of project that can benefit from multiple ideas up front. So I’m soliciting your suggestions.

We’re talking Nabokov, so we want something that combines humor with horror (real or imagined). In respect for his loathing of abstract art (and my own limits), we’ll keep it representational, but it doesn’t have to be slavishly so (meaning it doesn’t have to look like this painting). The cards can be line drawings or have more of a graphic design focus.

There are a few things I’d like you to chime in on, though you can feel free to offer any kind of suggestions.

–What should the four suits be?

–Should Nabokov & family members be on the cards, or characters from the books, or both?

–What other elements should be included? Butterflies seem obvious, but there are other recurring creatures and objects in Nabokov’s writing.

–What are some ways to include the playfulness and mystery that are built into so many of Nabokov’s stories?

The cards will either be free–a kind of download and print-your-own affair–or if I can arrange something with the the estate, they might be for sale, with a Nabokov-related organization receiving the funds. (I will be giving 20% of any proceeds I get from The Secret History to Nabokov-, Gulag-, and Holocaust-related organizations regardless, but this would be on top of that).

Now you may be asking yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Well, as regular visitors know, prizes are sometimes offered on this site. The photo prize was determined by a drawing. The Nabokov quiz competition will be determined by how many answers people get right on a form filled out at one of my readings between now and June 15. And the playing card prize will be determined by… my own particular prejudices. Whoever gives me the most or best suggestions as I work to design the cards will end up with the brass ring.

All this will likely take a while. But I wanted to throw the concept out there to see what ideas readers might have to offer. So tell your friends, send your thoughts, inform on your neighbors–I’m at andrea[dot]pitzer[at]

Image: Atlanta’s Prize II, 2003, birch on plywood

Write a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>