verworven via: Amazon
|The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, the first novel Nabokov wrote in English, published a year after he settled in the US, is a tantalizing literary mystery in which a writer’s half brother searches to unravel the enigma of the life of a famous author.
Bend Sinister (1947), Nabokov’s most explicitly political novel, is the haunting, dreamlike story of Adam Krug, a quiet philosophy professor caught up in the bureaucratic bungling of a totalitarian police state. “I am neither a didacticist nor an allegorizer,” Nabokov affirms in his introduction to the novel, but goes on to state: “There can be distinguished, no doubt, certain reflections in the glass caused by idiotic and despicable regimes that we all know and that have brushed against me in the course of my life: worlds of tyranny and torture, of Fascists and Bolshevists, of Philistine thinkers and jack-booted baboons.”
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1951; revised 1966), Nabokov’s memoir of his childhood in imperial Russia and exile in Europe, is central to an understanding of his art. “I have to make a rapid inventory of the universe…I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love,” he writes toward the end of the book, “so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me to fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence.”