NABOKV-L post 0021013, Wed, 1 Dec 2010 12:31:59 -0500

Vladimir Nabokov's unpublished love letters released ...

Vladimir Nabokov's unpublished love letters released

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov's love letters written to his wife, Vera, reveal a new side to one of the 20th century's best-loved authors.

More than 300 letters have been collected by the Nabokovs' son, Dmitry, and are to be published in English next year. A selection of the letters appeared last week, in their original Russian, in the Russian magazine Snob.

The letters span the romance between Nabokov and Vera Slonim, later Vera Nabokov, from their meeting in Berlin in 1923, up until just before the author's death in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977, reports the Independent.

Their only son discovered more than 300 letters in his mother's archive. She had destroyed her letters to her husband.

Nabokov met Vera at a charity ball in Berlin, and the earlier letters are wildly passionate.

"How can I explain to you, my joy, my golden one, my heavenly happiness, just how much I am fully yours - with all of my memories, my poems, impulses and inner tremors?" writes Nabokov shortly after meeting her.

"Explain to you that I can't... recall the most insignificant incident without regret - such painful regret! - that we did not go through it together... - do you understand, my joy?"

Nabokov was born into an aristocratic family in St Petersburg in 1899 and spent his childhood in Russia. When the Bolshevik revolution came in 1917, the family fled and he enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge, to study languages. After graduating he settled in Berlin, home to a large community of Russian emigres, and began his writing career.

His earlier books were written in Russian, whereas later novels, including the masterpiece Lolita, were written in English.

"The letters are very recognisably written in Nabokov's style. They can't be compared to anything else in the culture of letters; they are part of the heritage of a great poet and writer," said Sergey Nikolayevich, deputy editor-in-chief of Snob magazine.

The letters include musings on various themes. "Heavenly paradise, probably, is rather boring, and there's so much fluffy Seraphic eiderdown there that smoking is banned," writes the author in one: "... mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw the cigarettes away: that's when you get shooting stars."

The later letters, though written with feeling, tend to be devoted to more prosaic matters - how he likes his eggs cooked and the price of milk. (ANI)

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