Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita by Robert Roper - review by Ian Sansom

Ian Sansom

Like April in Arizona

Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita


Bloomsbury 354pp £18.49 order from our bookshop

For all those keen quivering Nabokovians out there with infinitely deep pockets – are there any other kind? – or perhaps with access to a university library, these are undoubtedly the years of plenty. In 2014 alone, even the most casual short-trousered amateur Nabokovterist armed with a basic butterfly net would have been able to catch Maurice Couturier’s Nabokov’s Eros and the Poetics of Desire, Yuri Leving’s Shades of Laura: Vladimir Nabokov’s Last Novel, Samuel Schuman’s Nabokov’s Shakespeare, and the paperback reissues of Gerard de Vries and D Barton Johnson’s Nabokov and the Art of Painting and Vladimir E Alexandrov’s Nabokov’s Otherworld. Almost forty years after his death there is, it seems, much good Nabokov-hunting still to be had. In a lecture on ‘The Art of Literature and Commonsense’, collected in his Lectures on Literature – which remains the perfect entry point into the vast, prodigious kingdom of the Great Nabob – Nabokov remarks, ‘In a sense, we are all crashing to our death from the top story of our birth … and wondering with an immortal Alice at the patterns of the passing wall. This capacity to wonder at trifles – no matter the imminent peril – these asides

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