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Vera Nabokova (January 5, 1902 ‚Äď April 7, 1991), was the wife, muse, editor, and translator of Vladimir Nabokov.

Early life and immigration

Born Véra Evseevna Slonim in St. Petersburgmarker into a Jewish family, she was the second of three sisters. Her father, who had studied law, was in the tile business. With the turmoil of the Russian Revolution, the family moved first to Moscowmarker, and after a protracted flight over Kievmarker, Odessamarker, Istanbulmarker, and Sofiamarker arrived at Berlinmarker where they joined the large Russian émigré population.

Marriage to Nabokov

In Berlin her father co-founded a publishing firm Orbis and Vera worked in the office. It was there that Vladimir Nabokov was to translate Dostoevsky into English, and he started playing chess with Vera's father, but until a Charity Ball that year they had not properly met. They were married on April 15, 1925. She ended her own budding career as a writer to support her husband as critic, reader, and typist, and sustained the family through her work as secretary and translator. Their son, Dmitri, was born on May 10, 1934.

After moving to the United States of Americamarker in 1940, she modified her name from "Véra" to "Vera." She learned to drive and chauffeured her husband on many field trips, notably in the North American West, to hunt butterflies. To protect him she carried a handgun. Nabokov relied in his work on her and "would have been nowhere without her." online extract at New York Times During his lectures, she would sit in the front row. She was his inspiration, editor, and first reader; all his works are dedicated to her. Lolita was saved by her from the flames more than once. However, personal letters pertaining to her and her marriage were destroyed.

Return to Europe and death

Upon the couple's return to Europe in 1960, she resided with her husband at the Montreuxmarker Palace Hotel where she continued to manage his affairs, and after his death in 1977, his estate. Upon his death, Vladimir had requested his final work, The Original of Laura be burned, but neither Vera nor her son Dmitri could bring themselves to destroy the manuscript, and 30 years later it remained in a Swiss Bank vault. In her late eighties she translated Pale Fire into Russian. She stayed at the Palace until 1990, and died the following year at Veveymarker.

References

  1. Stacy Schiff Chapter 1
  2. Amis, Martin. Visiting Mrs Nabokov: And Other Excursions. pages 115-118. Penguin Books (1993) printed 1994. ISBN 0-14-023858-1
  3. It will be published by Penguin Classics in November 2009

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