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30 April 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 4:07am

Words in Pictures: Vladimir Nabokov

The Russian-American novelist discusses Lolita.

By Charlotte Newman

 

This video from Close Up, a CBC programme from the 1950s, shows Nabokov discussing his classic novel Lolita in a relaxed, civilised fashion that seems somewhat at odds with the format of contemporary chat shows.

Last winter saw the publication of Nabokov’s unfinished final novel The Original of Laura, after his son, Dmitri, decided to publish it against the late novelist’s wishes. The literary agent Andrew Wylie, who is in charge of Nabokov’s estate, was also persuaded to allow Playboy to publish extracts from the book prior to publication, on the grounds that it was a magazine to which Nabokov had himself been a contributor.

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Penguin, who published The Original of Laura, have also just reissued paperback editions of Nabokov’s satirical novels, including Pnin and Invitation to a Beheading. Just last month in the New Statesman, Lesley Chamberlain reviewed a new book by Michael Maar called Speak, Nabokov, which “deciphers the word games and patterns that permeate Nabokov’s novels in order to throw light on the author’s life”. You can read her review here.

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One of Nabokov’s two interviewers is the literary critic Lionel Trilling, whose own writing is discussed by Leo Robson in his review of Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel in this week’s magazine.