A small Oedipus still struggling with his father’s shadow

Victor Sonkin in the Moscow Times:

Nabokov_2Vladimir Nabokov’s destiny was a difficult one. Forced into exile by the Revolution, he spent the early part of his life in Germany and France, working as a tutor and tennis coach while gradually becoming the greatest Russian writer of his time. Unfortunately, his poetry and fiction were appreciated only by a small emigre circle. After relocating to the United States, he continued to pursue his interest in entomology — he had a lifelong passion for butterflies — and, with the publication of “Lolita,” he became a living classic of American literature. However, his early Russian novels, most of them translated into English by the author and his son Dmitry, have remained more obscure to U.S. readers than the books he wrote in English.

After the fall of the Soviet regime, Nabokov’s books were finally published in Russia. Except for “Lolita,” translated by the author into Russian — although some critics consider this translation seriously inferior to the original — his English-language novels have not achieved the same success here as “The Gift” or “Glory,” his Russian masterpieces.

More here.