Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Favorite Author: Vladamir Nabokov

Vladamir Nabokov was a Russian-born novelist, born in 1899, who published his first books in Russian before emigrating to America in 1940 where he wrote many more books in English.  He translated his earlier works from Russian to English himself; and translated his most famous book, Lolita, from English to Russian.  He died in 1977 while living in Switzerland.

Nabokov was a pure genius.  Yes, Lolita is about a man sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.  It is unfortunate that this pop-culture crumb seems to overshadow Nabokov's brilliance.  For starters, Lolita is a literary masterpiece.  And besides Lolita, Nabokov wrote 17 other novels, dozens of short stories, memoirs, literary criticism, and other works.  He was also a distinguished entomologist and is famed for his lepidopterology.

I read Lolita and Pale Fire because they were included on the Modern Library's list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th CenturyPale Fire went straight to my personal list of Top 10 favorites.  Part epic poem, part annotations, part wacky murder mystery, it is a comic masterpiece and literary one-off that makes me happy just thinking about it.  

Since then, I read Pnin, which remains one of my favorite Campus Novels.  And I recently read the best known of Nabokov's memoirs, Speak Memory.

My plan is to read all Nabokov's fiction.  The three I have read so far are in red; those on my TBR shelf now are in blue.

If you are a Nabokov fan, please leave a comment with links to reviews or other Nabokov-related posts.


Mary (1926 in Russian/1970 in English)

King, Queen, Knave (1928/1968)

The Luzhin Defense (1930/1964; also as The Defense)

The Eye (1930/1965)

Glory (1932/1971)

Laughter in the Dark (1933/1938; and as Camera Obscura in 1936)

Despair (1934/1937 and 1965)

Invitation to a Beheading (1936/1959)

The Gift (1938/1963)

The Enchanter (written in Russian in 1936 but unpublished until 1985, in English)

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941)

Bend Sinister (1947)

Lolita (1955; self-translated into Russian in 1965)

Pnin (1957)

Pale Fire (1962) (reviewed here)

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969)

Transparent Things (1972)

Look at the Harlequins! (1974)

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995)

The Original of Laura (fragmentary; published posthumously in 2009)


Updated on July 25, 2013.


  1. I've owned a copy of ADA forever it seems and yet it still sits in my TBR collection. Can't explain why I've never read it, unless it's the length. I've never read LOLITA either - must read both.

  2. I've read Lolita and Bend Sinister. I have Ada and a few others sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

  3. Ada is a favorite., But Lolita is a must-read.

    Sarah Stonich

  4. I read Lolita because I felt I "should", and it and Nabokov immediately became top favorites. I am always amazed by how well he writes and how marvelous his word-choices are. It's so nice to find another fan!


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