Letters to Vera
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Letters to Vera

Vladimir Nabokov, Olga Voronina, Brian Boyd

Edmund White called Vladimir Nabokov ‘the most passionate novelist of the twentieth century.’ Nabokov’s passion for his wife Véra spanned the last fifty-four years of his life, from the first poem he wrote for her in 1923, after only hours in her company, to a half-century of marriage later when he dedicated the last of his books published in his lifetime, like its twenty predecessors, ‘To Véra’. Though they were rarely apart, Nabokov wrote countless letters to her, now published for the first time in any language.

Nabokov, in every word of these letters, thinks of Véra, his astute and ideal reader. Barely a year into their relationship, he wrote: ‘you and I are so special; the miracles we know, no one knows, and no one loves the way we love’. When he first dedicated a book to her, his autobiography, the last chapter turns directly to an unspecified ‘you’: ‘The years are passing, my dear, and presently nobody will know what you and I know.’ Véra was a constant; the joy of his life.

As we read over Véra’s shoulder we can follow the shift from the passion where everything needs to be said to the passion where everything can be assumed. These letters reveal in Nabokov the man what he valued most in art: ‘curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy.’

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