Vladimir Nabokov: Pride, Prejudice & Pushkin

Donald Rayfield in Literary Review:

This generous collection of 154 pieces of what Brian Boyd in the introduction calls Nabokov’s ‘public prose’ – mostly uncollected and sometimes also unpublished journalism – is presented chronologically. Where necessary, the pieces have been expertly translated from Russian and French by Boyd and Anastasia Tolstoy, and the notes and index make this book easy to negotiate. The text is marred only by a few idiosyncratic transliterations of Russian words. At first sight, the book may seem to be yet more of those scrapings from the barrel that have been served up over the four decades since Nabokov’s death. However, unlike the embarrassingly jejune fragments of his novels, such as The Original of Laura, that have been published posthumously, this collection includes some of his sharpest prose, as well as his most cursory. It spans Nabokov’s career, from juvenilia to senilia. In Germany, where Nabokov is revered enough for Rowohlt to have published his collected works in twenty-five volumes, a similar anthology of the author’s ‘public prose’ came out fifteen years ago with the title Eigensinnige Ansichten (probably best translated as ‘Stubbornly Held Views’ or ‘Prejudices’). Stubbornness, even perversity, certainly underlies Nabokov’s opinions.

More here.