This enormous project, thirty years in the making, offers readers a luxurious wealth of discovery, collected passed-down knowledge, and, just as important, imagery that helps situate Nabokov’s last and greatest Russian novel in a broad (multi-)cultural, literary, and historical context. In some respects the images alone justify the entire project, but as Dolinin noted at the recent Nabokov Readings conference in St. Petersburg, the printed book makes many of them quite small, destroying the power of their effect. Taken as a whole, Dolinin’s book constitutes an ambitious first step in producing a comprehensive commentary to Nabokov’s culturally dense novel. Since Dolinin has been adding to the commentary from version to version since 1989, it has expanded from around thirty pages to now around six hundred and fifty (though this version includes much ampler text-headings than the earliest commentaries had, and, of course, all the imagery is new). Throughout the commentary, Dolinin makes generous reference to scholars who have been first to discover various allusions hidden within the text.
- From a review by Stephen H. Blackwell