Is Humbert Humbert Jewish?

The Tragedy of Mister Morn

by Vladimir Nabokov, translated from the Russian by Thomas Karshan and Anastasia Tolstoy
Knopf, 147 pp., $26.00

Selected Poems

by Vladimir Nabokov, translated from the Russian by Dmitri Nabokov, and edited and with an introduction by Thomas Karshan
Knopf, 203 pp., $30.00

Nabokov’s conception of the artist as quasi-divine inventor means that—as is the case with one of his great heroes, James Joyce—critics tend to find themselves in the role of enchanted hunters looking for clues and connections, spotting recondite allusions, praising the novels’ elaborate artistry, or elucidating labyrinthine patterns. It would take a bold critic to read such a dazzling, seemingly omniscient, and utterly self-conscious oeuvre as depicting the bars of Nabokov’s own cage. Andrea Pitzer doesn’t, perhaps, go quite that far, but she does invite us to step back a little and ponder the oddness of the relationship Nabokov’s writings create between the fictive and the historical.

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