The life of the Russian émigré novelist Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) is one complicated by artifice, concealment, invention, and subterfuge. Nabokov is one of the more theatrical and self-flaunting of serious modern writers. If Saint Paul once wrote that he did not live, but died daily, one might say of the novelist Nabokov that he did not live, but re-invented himself daily. In his later years a celebrated lecturer and literary lion, Nabokov painstakingly arranged every public statement and appearance, rewriting his interviews with journalists and sometimes denying afterward (with threat of legal action) that he had made the statements recorded on tape or film. He revised three times over into a more pleasing picture his memoirs of his first forty years: its two sequels, describing his American experiences, Nabokov himself suppressed. His fiction is walled with false mirrors and paved with teasing trails designed...


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