Vladimir Nabokov was the author of Lolita, Pale Fire, Pnin, Ada, and many other novels. He died in 1977.

The Monkey

The heat was fierce. Great forests were on fire. Time dragged its feet in dust. A cock was crowing in an adjacent lot. As I pushed open my garden-gate I saw beside the road a wandering Serb asleep upon a bench his back against …

The Christmas Story

Silence fell. Pitilessly illuminated by the lamplight, young and plump-faced, wearing a side-buttoned Russian blouse under his black jacket, his eyes tensely downcast, Anton Golïy began gathering the manuscript pages that he had discarded helter-skelter during his reading. His mentor, the critic from Red Reality, stared at the floor as …

Pushkin, or the Real and the Plausible

Two great poets of two nations—Pushkin and Leopardi—died 150 years ago, each scarcely older than his century. As multiple coincidence would have it, these lines of introduction to a piece Vladimir Nabokov wrote about Pushkin on the one hundredth anniversary of the Russian poet’s death are being drafted on an …

Tolstoy

A picture in a school anthology: an old man, barefoot. As I turned the page, unkindled still was my imagination. With Pushkin things are different: there’s the cloak, the cliff, the foaming surf…. The surname “Pushkin” grows over, ivylike, with poetry, and repetitiously the …

Two by Nabokov

I: Maxim Gorki (1868–1936) In My Childhood Gorki has left an account of his life in the house of his maternal grandfather, Vasili Kashirin. It is a dismal story. The grandfather was a tyrannical brute; his two sons—Gorki’s uncles—though terrified of their father, in turn terrorized and maltreated their wives …

Rowe’s Symbols

“It appears,” says Mr. Rowe in his Introduction, “that Nabokov—partially by means of the mechanisms revealed below—will continue to flutter the pulses of his readers for some time.” “The mechanisms revealed below” is a pretty phrase, suggesting more than its author intends, but it does not quite apply to me.

On Adaptation

Here is a literal translation of a great poem by Mandelshtam (note the correct form of his name), which appears in the original Russian on pp. 142 and 144 of Olga Carlisle’s anthology, Poets on Street Corners (Random House, New York, 1968). It consists of sixteen, tetrametric (odd) and trimetric …

Lunar Lines

Spell “night.” Spell “pebbles”: Pebbles in the Night. Peep, crated chicks on lonely stations! This Is now the ABC of the Abyss, The Desperanto we must learn to write.

On Translating Pushkin Pounding the Clavichord

The author of a soon-to-be-published translation may find it awkward to criticize a just published translation of the same work, but in the present case I can, and should, master my embarrassment; for something must be done, some lone, hoarse voice must be raised, to defend both the helpless dead …