Book cover for 'The Tender Friendship and the Charm of Perfect Accord'
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The Tender Friendship and the Charm of Perfect Accord

Nabokov and His Father
Gavriel Shapiro


Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977), a writer of world renown, grew up in a culturally refined family with diverse interests. Nabokov’s father, Vladimir Dmitrievich (1870–1922), was a distinguished jurist and statesman at the turn of the twentieth century. He was also a great connoisseur and aficionado of literature, painting, theater, and music as well as a passionate butterfly collector, keen chess player, and avid athlete. This book, the first of its kind, examines Vladimir Nabokov’s life and works as impacted by his distinguished father. It demonstrates that V. D. Nabokov exerted the most fundamental influence on his son, making this examination pivotal to understanding the writer’s personality and his world perception, as well as his literary, scholarly, and athletic accomplishments. The book contains never heretofore published archival materials. It is appended with rare articles by Nabokov and his father and is accompanied by old photographs. In addition, the book constitutes a survey of sorts of Russian civilization at the turn of the twentieth century by providing a partial view of the multifaceted picture of Imperial Russia in its twilight hours. The book illumines the historical background, political struggle, juridical battles, and literary and artistic life as well as athletic activities during the epoch, rich in cultural events and fraught with sociopolitical upheavals.

Cover illustration: Vladimir Nabokov and his father, 1906. The Nabokov family photographs. Copyright © The Estate of Vladimir Nabokov, used by permission of The Wylie Agency, LLC; and of The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Gavriel Shapiro is Professor of Comparative and Russian Literature at Cornell University. His other major publications include Nikolai Gogol and the Baroque Cultural Heritage (1993), Delicate Markers: Subtexts in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Invitation to a Beheading” (1998), and The Sublime Artist’s Studio: Nabokov and Painting (2009). He also edited Nabokov at Cornell (2003) and contributed over sixty articles and book chapters to various scholarly periodicals and critical collections. He received fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Kennan Institute in Washington, DC.

Praise / Awards

  • "This book, which could have been also titled Like Father, Like Son, is in many ways a valuable addition to Nabokov studies given the author’s close cooperation with the late Dmitri Nabokov, who is quoted here on numerous occasions, and four appendixes with new material, two of them bilingual."
    --Slavic Review
  • "Professor Shapiro is to be saluted for his scrupulous portrayal of this sadly suppressed cultural legacy and for his dedication in reconstructing its lineaments from sources unavailable online."
    --The Russian Review
  • "Casts invaluable light on the predominant figure of Nabokov’s formative years..."
    --Slavonic and East European Review?

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Product Details

  • 328 pages.
  • 12 B&W halftones.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2014
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02989-1

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  • Nabokov, Vladimir, Cultural history, Father-son relationship, Literature Criticism and interpretation, History of law, Politics and history, History of music, History of theater, Art history, Butterflies, Chess, History of sports