- Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library Pbk. Ed edition (April 4 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375755349
- ISBN-13: 978-0375755347
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #161,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) Paperback – Apr 4 2000
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From Library Journal
Of all the symbiotic relationships writers have had with their spouses, none surpasses that of Nabokov and his remarkable wife, Vera. So says another woman of substance, biographer Schiff, whose impressive research is on par with the exquisite writing style with which she relates the details of the Nabokovs' lives. Her task was no doubt made harder by the Nabokovs' devotion to each other, where veracity often took a back seat to defending their loved one. Insights into the character of "V.N.," as Vera lovingly called her husband, are included, but center stage in this riveting portrait belongs to Vera, whose genius equaled her husband's but who tenaciously embraced what she saw as her role in life, to "help him." Beautiful, vibrant, and passionate, she disputed every attempt by others to elevate her station in the relationship or her importance to the work her husband produced. Anna Field's intelligent narration is necessary to convey the life of such a woman adequately. Highly recommended.
Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, NC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"When her 1991 New York Times obit called Véra 'Wife, Muse, and Agent' it only hinted at her role, which is rescued from obscurity in Schiff's graceful prose." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Véra was the ultimate feminist while at the same time the self effacing servant of her genius husband. Did her (different) talents rank up there with his? Most probably, although she would deny this. She collected his words indiscriminantly, as if each phrase had great intrinsic value; every little scrap of paper became a motive for her archival attention and care. Nabokov depended on Véra for all practical things that life tossed his way (he was the typical absentminded professor) with the exception of the lovely young women who intercepted his bumbling march through this world. For these, and for a deeply threatening love affair he had during their 12th year of marriage, Véra demonstrated forbearance, but never tolerance.
In this long and magnificent biography Stacy Shiff manages to transcent the historical paraphernalia of the Nabokov's tumultuous lives to reveal the elusive characterology and spirituality of this very odd couple. She deftly studies them directly and as reflections of each other, as ghosts and mirages as well as the flesh and bood beings who lived and grew and aged and died. The reader receives more than just an exquisitly crafted portrait-history of Véra and Vladimir; a bit of their soul is imparted also. Worth having, worth reading.
Of course, Nab fanatics are insatiable in their appetites and so, being one, my eyes do light up anytime a new book is out about him (or his wife). Knowing the insatiable nature of Nabokovians I am tempted to take advantage of this in ruthless capatilistic fashion by publishing some type of book, say it's called "Nab and Me" or something awful like that... People would immediately know it's trash but I know that true Nabokovians would have to buy it, they would have no choice.
Anyhow this biography was real fun to read and a testament to Nabokov's persistent belief in the subjectivity of everything: Boyd and Schiff cover much of the same ground and yet the stories sound almost completely different. Indeed there is a haunting quality to this work, an interplay of Vera's V and Vladimir's V., leaving the reader to wonder who V. is, and where is V's wife, V., and if they even exist at all. The person impersonating Vladimir in this book may have been the same one as in Boyd's, but the part of Vera is much more rich and present in Schiff's book, whereas whoever was supposed to play her in Boyd's biographies forgot to show up.
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