Novels and Memoirs 1941–1951
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight • Bend Sinister • Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited.
"He came to know the American landscape better than many natives...."
—The Wall Street Journal
"He came to know the American landscape better than many natives....
His Russian heritage was a beloved heirloom, but not a substitute for, or a rival to, American culture. When his autobiography was published, he commented: 'The new blurb seems very satisfactory. I only think that the fact that I am an American citizen and an American writer should have been stressed....'
Nabokov was exceptional, a genius, but what he demonstrated can apply to any immigrant, to any member of a minority group. He demonstrated that it is possible to revere one's origins without tearing apart the unifying faith in America. As a European he knew from his own experiences...that legitimate ethnic or racial pride can deteriorate into lethal hostility. He often praised American diversity, but he knew that the genius of America is not diversity for its own sake but diversity in unity."
Henry Grunwald, The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 1997
"Nabokov's first novel in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, gradually unravels the reader's sense of narrative reliability even as it compiles the story of the narrator's frustrated efforts to write a biography of his deceased half-brother, the novelist Sebastian Knight. Bend Sinister, the first novel Nabokov actually wrote on American soil, sets philosophy professor Adam Krug in an imaginary totalitarian state, his friends and family the anguishingly high stakes in the author's political nightmare.... And rounding out the collection is Nabokov's magnificently artful memoir, Speak, Memory, a timeless meditation on the often covert but always crucial links between the development of the artistic imagination and the formulation of a personal identity; The New Republic called Speak, Memory 'the finest autobiography written in our century'--a judgement that has stood largely unchallenged in the thirty years since Nabokov published it in revised and expanded form."
American Studies International, June 1997
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