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Download The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, by Andrea Pitzer Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrea Pitzer Narrator: Susan Boyc Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 enigmatic authors.

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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Pitzer, like Nabokov, is a beautiful writer and gimlet-eyed observer, especially about her subject…Her attention to history’s moral components is refreshingly blunt: ‘The dead are not nameless,’ she writes of the writers and others killed in Stalin’s Great Purge of the late 1930s. Inviting us to reconsider Nabokov, Pitzer also introduces herself as a writer worthy of attention.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Pitzer metes out her conclusions slowly, holding us in suspense until she reveals a ‘secret history’ hidden in each of Nabokov’s major novels—in particular Lolita and Pale Fire—typically involving a momentous tragedy like the Gulag or the Holocaust…Without question, the horrors of the twentieth century have always rumbled beneath the surface of Nabokov’s novels, and Pitzer’s new book is a fine guide to their nightmarish underbelly.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Given how much scholarship concerns Nabokov’s oeuvre, it is bold to contend, as Pitzer does in her introduction, that ‘a whole layer of meaning in his work has vanished.’ That statement had me sharpening my critical daggers. But by the end, Pitzer managed to pretty much make her case, mostly by not belaboring the point, though also never deviating from it.”

    New Republic

  • “Fifty years is long time to wait for a decryption device, but one has been furnished by Andrea Pitzer, the author of The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, not just one of the most beguiling literary biographies to come out in years but also a first-rate addition to the groaning shelf of Nabokov studies.”

    Daily Beast

  • “[Pitzer’s] fresh perspective will likely send readers back to his books.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This is a brilliant examination that adds to the understanding of an inspiring and enigmatic life.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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About the Author

Andrea Pitzer’s writing has appeared in many places, from USA Today to Poet Lore. She also founded Nieman Storyboard, the narrative nonfiction site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Pitzer presented on Nabokov’s fiction at the 2009 Modern Language Association Conference.