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Vera: Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov (Modern Library)by Stacy Schiff
Synopses & Reviews
An intimate biography of the woman who stood at the centre of Vladimir Nabokov's life and work.
At once a love story, a portrait of a marriage, and an answer to a riddle, Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) explores a remarkable literary partner-ship — that of a woman who devoted her life to her husband's art and a man who dedicated his works to his wife. Open a volume of Nabokov's, and there is Véra on the dedication page. But search for her elsewhere, and his wife of fifty-two years fades from view.
Stacy Schiff follows Véra Nabokov from her affluent St. Petersburg childhood to the streets of Weimar Berlin, where she makes a spectacular entrance into the life of her future husband, then a gifted but struggling writer of Russian verse. In the three decades that pass before he metamorphoses into the celebrated author of Lolita, Véra proves to be nothing less than his full creative partner. It was Véra, in fact, who plucked the manuscript of Lolita from the flames to which its author attempted to sacrifice it, commanding, "We are keeping this."
Véra's story — never told, never really known at all before — is based on new material, including Vladimir's diaries and letters, and family correspondence.
"A sensitive rendering of one of the century's great love stories." Mirabella
"I am truly in love with this book. Schiff's sentences are magnificent, deceptively complex, full of insight and fact and distance and wry humor, so that every page is a kind of mini feast." Anita Shreve
"An absorbing story, illumined by Schiff's flair for the succinct insight." The New York Times Book Review
"Véra is an astonishingly fine book — a tale told with wit and elegance, a tale that succeeds in encompassing both the intimacy of a marriage and the sweep of history. I found it a great pleasure to read. And I'm in awe of Stacy Schiff's talent." Jonathan Harr
"Vera" is the "utterly romantic" (New York magazine) story of the 52-year marriage between Vladimir Nabokov, one the 20th century's most original writers, and a woman with an intellect and devotion to literature equal to her husband's.
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 Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) brings to shimmering life one of the greatest literary love stories of our time. Vladimir Nabokov--the émigré author of Lolita; Pale Fire; and Speak, Memory--wrote his books first for himself, second for his wife, Véra, 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. Véra, 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 Véra is a triumph of the biographical form.
About the Author
Stacy Schiff's Saint Exupéry was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in New York City.
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