A startling and
revelatory examination of Nabokov’s life and works—notably Pale Fire and
Lolita—bringing new insight into one of the twentieth century’s most
Novelist Vladimir Nabokov witnessed the horrors of his
century, escaping Revolutionary Russia then Germany under Hitler, and fleeing
France with his Jewish wife and son just weeks before Paris fell to the Nazis.
He repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to human suffering to
write artful tales of depravity. But does one of the greatest writers in the
English language really deserve the label of amoral aesthete bestowed on him by
so many critics?
Using information from newly-declassified intelligence files and
recovered military history, journalist Andrea Pitzer argues that far from being
a proponent of art for art’s sake, Vladimir Nabokov managed to hide disturbing
history in his fiction—history that has gone unnoticed for decades. Nabokov
emerges as a kind of documentary conjurer, spending the most productive decades
of his career recording a saga of forgotten concentration camps and searing
bigotry, from World War I to the Gulag and the Holocaust. Lolita
surrenders Humbert Humbert’s secret identity, and reveals a Nabokov appalled by
American anti-Semitism. The lunatic narrator of Pale Fire recalls
Russian tragedies that once haunted the world. From Tsarist courts to Nazi film
sets, from CIA front organizations to wartime Casablanca, the story of
Nabokov’s family is the story of his century—and both are woven inextricably
into his fiction.
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