Biography Of Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabakov had been a respected writer for years when his

Vladimir Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. His father, also named Vladimir, was an aristocratic liberal politician, and his mother, Elena Ivanova, enjoyed the life of an upper-class lady in pre-Revolutionary Russia. The family was wealthy enough to own two houses and a Rolls Royce. As a child, Nabokov enjoyed soccer, tennis, and collecting butterflies. He was fluent in Russian, English, and French.

In his memoir, "Speak, Memory," Nabokov describes an almost idyllic childhood. Though he was not well-liked by his school mates, probably because of their material jealousy, his family was close and loving, and he recalls his young years as happy ones. The Nabokov family's world turned upside down, however, with the Bolshevik Revolution and the abdication of Nicholas II. In 1919, the family moved to England, and Nabokov graduated from Cambridge several years later. In 1922, he was devastated when his father was killed in a political assassination.

In 1923, Nabokov relocated to Berlin, Germany, and met and married Vera Slonim, also a Russian expatriate. His first novel, written in Russian, was called "Mary" and was published later that year. Nabokov also translated many English and French books into Russian (or vice versa) and wrote critical reviews and poetry. The 1930's were a particularly fertile time for his Russian work, and among his novels of that era are "Despair" (1936) and "Invitation to a Beheading" (1938). He authored scientific studies in Lepidoptera, and even named several types of butterflies. He and Vera welcomed a baby son, Dmitri, in 1934.

Nabakov and his wife were forced to flee the Nazis, first to Paris and then to New York. Nabokov published several novels in English and wrote short stories for the New Yorker. He had a curious way of writing on note cards and then rearranging the cards until he felt he found the proper sequence. He made few friends in the state, preferring home life to parties and referring to himself as a "social cripple."

In 1955, Olympia Press published his novel, "Lolita" in France. The book is about an aging European intellectual who marries a vulgar American woman and becaomes obsessed with her 12-year-old daughter, eventually running off with and having sex with her. American publishers refused to touch it for years, but finally Putnam published it 1958, to a moral outcry. The critics, however, were ecstatic, and proclaimed it a masterpiece. Nabokov couldn't see what all the fuss was about. The novel was less about pederasty, he said, than his "love affair with the English language." In the early "˜60's, Nabokov wrote the screenplay for Stanley Kubrick's film version of "Lolita."

Nabokov had made enough money off "Lolita" to live comfortably, and he and Vera moved to Montreux, Switzerland in 1961, where he lived a reclusive life until his death in 1977. He had written 18 novels, eight books of short stories, nine plays, and seven books of poetry.

The controversy surrounding his masterpiece, however, did not die with him. In 1997, the director Adrian Lyne remade "Lolita," starring Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain, and Melanie Griffith. No U.S. movie studio would distribute the film to theaters, and it was released directly to video.

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