Selected Poems

Overview

Though we know Vladimir Nabokov as a brilliant novelist, his first love was poetry. This landmark collection brings together the best of his verse, including many pieces that have never before appeared in English.

   These poems span the whole of Nabokov?s career, from the newly discovered ?Music,? written in 1914, to the short, playful ?To V?ra,? composed in 1974. Many are newly translated by Dmitri Nabokov, including The University Poem, a sparkling novel in ...

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Selected Poems

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Overview

Though we know Vladimir Nabokov as a brilliant novelist, his first love was poetry. This landmark collection brings together the best of his verse, including many pieces that have never before appeared in English.

   These poems span the whole of Nabokov’s career, from the newly discovered “Music,” written in 1914, to the short, playful “To Véra,” composed in 1974. Many are newly translated by Dmitri Nabokov, including The University Poem, a sparkling novel in verse modeled on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin that constitutes a significant new addition to Nabokov’s oeuvre. Included too are such poems as “Lilith”, an early work which broaches the taboo theme revisited nearly forty years later in Lolita, and “An Evening of Russian Poetry”, a masterpiece in which Nabokov movingly mourns his lost language in the guise of a versified lecture on Russian delivered to college girls. The subjects range from the Russian Revolution to the American refrigerator, taking in on the way motel rooms, butterflies, ice-skating, love, desire, exile, loneliness, language, and poetry itself; and the poet whirls swiftly between the brilliantly painted facets of his genius, wearing masks that are, by turns, tender, demonic, sincere, self-parodying, shamanic, visionary, and ingeniously domestic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307593351
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 774,026
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

VLADIMIR NABOKOV studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin. In 1940, he left France for America, where he wrote some of his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), and translated his earlier Russian novels into English. He taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

Biography

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins.

The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri.

Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses -- the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions -- which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Vladimir Sirin
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 23, 1899
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      July 2, 1977
    2. Place of Death:
      Montreux, Switzerland

Table of Contents

Introduction

Poems Translated by Dmitri Nabokov

MUSIC
REVOLUTION
PETER IN HOLLAND
THE LAST SUPPER
EASTER
THE RULER
THE GLASSES OF ST. JOSEPH
“LIKE PALLID DAWN, MY POETRY SOUNDS GENTLY”
SHAKESPEARE
CUBES
ST. PETERSBURG
EVENING
FORTUNE-TELLING
THE DEMON
THE SKATER
SPRING
DREAM
THE TRAIN WRECK
UT PICTURA POESIS
A TRIFLE
THE UNIVERSITY POEM
BUTTERFLIES
TOLSTOY
“I HAVE NO NEED, FOR MY NOCTURNAL TRAVELS”
TO THE GRAPEFRUIT
THE HAWKMOTH
“FORTY-THREE YEARS, FORTY-FOUR YEARS MAYBE”
TO VÉRA

The Russian Poems from Poems and Problems

THE RAIN HAS FLOWN
TO LIBERTY
I STILL KEEP MUTE
HOTEL ROOM
PROVENCE
LA BONNE LORRAINE
THE BLAZON
THE MOTHER
I LIKE THAT MOUNTAIN
THE DREAM
THE SNAPSHOT
IN PARADISE
THE EXECUTION
FOR HAPPINESS THE LOVER CANNOT SLEEP
LILITH
THE MUSE
SOFT SOUND
SNOW
THE FORMULA
AN UNFINISHED DRAFT
EVENING ON A VACANT LOT
THE MADMAN
HOW I LOVE YOU
L’INCONNUE DE LA SEINE
AT SUNSET
WE SO FIRMLY BELIEVED
WHAT HAPPENED OVERNIGHT
THE POETS
TO RUSSIA
OCULUS
FAME
THE PARIS POEM
NO MATTER HOW
ON RULERS
TO PRINCE S. M. KACHURIN
A DAY LIKE ANY OTHER
IRREGULAR IAMBICS
WHAT IS THE EVIL DEED
FROM THE GRAY NORTH

The English Poems from Poems and Problems

A LITERARY DINNER
THE REFRIGERATOR AWAKES
A DISCOVERY
THE POEM
AN EVENING OF RUSSIAN POETRY
THE ROOM
VOLUPTATES TACTIONUM
RESTORATION
THE POPLAR
LINES WRITTEN IN OREGON
ODE TO A MODEL
ON TRANSLATING “EUGENE ONEGIN”
RAIN
THE BALLAD OF LONGWOOD GLEN

English Poems Not Included in Poems and Problems

HOME
REMEMBRANCE
THE RUSSIAN SONG
SOFTEST OF TONGUES
EXILE
A POEM
DREAM
DANDELIONS
LUNAR LINES

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