RT (Russia’s English-language news channel) reports that next year Vladimir Nabokov‘s unpublished letters to his wife, Vera, will be published in a book called Letters to Vera. This news was of interest to me because, of course, Nabokov is a gorgeous writer—can you name any opening lines better than those in Lolita? Also, the author helped found the Russian Department at my alma mater and taught there during the 1940s.
Other than the fact that she saved the manuscript that would become Lolita from a fire, I know little about Vera Slonim, to whom Nabokov dedicated all of his major novels. Luckily, Stacy Schiff—author of just-released Cleopatra—wrote an entire book about Mrs. Nabokov.
Ten years ago, the book was reviewed in BookPage. Here’s an excerpt:
Their lives were entwined to the point that even Nabokov’s authorship was not entirely his own. Schiff’s biography follows this inextricability even in its subtitle: “Portrait of a Marriage.” Thickly footnoted, illustrated with a wide variety of photographs, and written with an eye toward Nabokov’s writing as well as his wife, Schiff’s book paints a comprehensive picture of one of literature’s more complex couples.
I’m putting Schiff’s Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage on my TBR list before the collection of letters comes out. What about you?
If you can’t wait ’til next year for an inside scoop on a literary marriage, check out The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy, which Harper published in September.