NABOKV-L post 0026605, Sat, 7 Nov 2015 19:14:55 -0200

Brian Boyd rates VN's Greatest...
The 10 Best Vladimir Nabokov Books

By Brian Boyd | Nov 06, 2015

Award-winning Nabokov biographer Brian Boyd wrote an MA thesis that Vladimir
Nabokov called “brilliant” and a PhD thesis that Véra Nabokov thought the
best thing written about her husband to date. Boyd, editor of
<> Letters to Véra,
chronicling the decades-long love story between Vladimir and Véra, picks the
10 best Nabokov books.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Letters to Véra, edited and translated by Olga Voronina
and myself, publishes on November 4 (Knopf). The letters cover a span from
1923, the year the couple met, to 1976, the year before Nabokov died. Véra
famously helped Vladimir as first reader, editor, typist, secretary and
agent, although not, despite the rumors, as co-author. But Nabokov did once
write to her: “I read parts of your little card (about the move—terrible! I
can imagine . . . ) out loud to Ilyusha and Zinzin and they said they
understood now who writes my books for me.” We can see glints and shadows or
more of Véra in four of the books on this top ten list, in Pale Fire’s Sybil
Shade, The Gift’s Zina Mertz, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight’s Claire
Bishop, and Speak, Memory’s “you.”

Martin Amis is not alone in rating Nabokov the greatest writer of the
twentieth century while ranking Ulysses as the century’s greatest single
novel. The top two novels below, though, have both rated higher than even
Ulysses in some published lists. Don’t take such orderings too seriously,
but do take the books into your life.

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