Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): A Biography (Library Edition)

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9780786120901: Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): A Biography (Library Edition)
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[Audio Cassette Library Edition in vinyl case]

[Read by Anna Fields]

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Hailed by critics as both ''monumental'' (Boston Globe) and ''utterly romantic'' (New York magazine), Stacy Schiff's Vera, the story of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, brings to shimmering life one of the greatest literary love stories of our time. Vladimir Nabokov -- the emigre' author of Lolita, Pale Fire, and Speak, Memory -- wrote his books first for himself, second for his wife.

Set in prewar Europe and postwar America, spanning much of the twentieth century, the story of the Nabokov's fifty-two-year marriage reads as vividly as a novel. Vera, both beautiful and brilliant, is its outsized heroine -- a woman who loves as deeply and intelligently as did the great romantic heroines of Austen and Tolstoy. Stacy Schiff's Vera is a triumph of the biographical form.

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Review:

She was wearing a black satin mask when they first met in 1923, and in a sense she wore a mask--that of the dutiful wife and helpmeet--throughout their 52-year marriage. Especially after the American publication of Lolita made her husband notorious in 1958, Véra Nabokov's presence at her husband's side was crucial, writes her biographer Stacy Schiff: "[It] kept the fiction in its place, reassured readers ... that Nabokov's perversities were of a different kind." But Véra Slonim (1902-91) was essential to Vladimir Nabokov's literary career from the beginning. She had a gift for handling practical matters that her spouse proudly lacked; she screened him from his publishers and his admirers with equal firmness, and in doing so she liberated him to fulfill the artistic genius they both believed he possessed. Praised for a previous biography of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Schiff here cements her reputation as a literary biographer of striking subtlety and perceptiveness. She establishes a strong base in chapter 1 with her excellent analysis of Véra Slonim's youth in a privileged Russian Jewish family in St. Petersburg. She then pursues her subject's elusive personality through hints in Nabokov's work and the comments of friends and colleagues. Schiff's elegant prose and eye for nuance nearly match Nabokov himself in this lucid, unsentimental portrait of a marriage. --Wendy Smith

From the Inside Flap:

Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for biography and hailed by critics as both "monumental" (The Boston Globe) and "utterly romantic" (New York magazine), Stacy Schiff's Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) brings to shimmering life one of the greatest literary love stories of our time. Vladimir Nabokov--the emigre author of "Lolita; " Pale Fire; and "Speak, Memory--wrote his books first for himself, second for his wife, Vera, and third for no one at all.
"Without my wife," he once noted, "I wouldn't have written a single novel." Set in prewar Europe and postwar America, spanning much of the century, the story of the Nabokovs' fifty-two-year marriage reads as vividly as a novel. Vera, both beautiful and brilliant, is its outsized heroine--a woman who loves as deeply and intelligently as did the great romantic heroines of Austen and Tolstoy. Stacy Schiff's Vera is a triumph of the biographical form.

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