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MonkeyNotes-Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY

Vladimir Nabokov was born in 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a Russian statesman and his wife. Having worked for liberal reforms and against the Tsarist government, Vladimir's father found himself in and out of favor with a number of competing political interests leading up to the Russian Revolution. Vladimir himself, at age 16, inherited his uncle's large estate, but the entire family was forced to leave their wealth behind when fleeing the Bolsheviks in 1919. They went to England, where Vladimir attended Cambridge and studied foreign languages. Later, he moved to Berlin, where he married his wife. Vladimir's father died in 1922, in Berlin, killed by right-wing extremists while trying to defend their intended victim during a political meeting. This event is altered and replayed in Pale Fire. Prior to World War II, Nabokov moved to France to avoid the Nazis. His one son was born in 1934 in Paris. In 1940, Nabokov fled to the United States to avoid the advancing war. He became an American citizen in 1945, but returned to Europe in 1960.


Nabokov is first and foremost a poet. His first three volumes of poetry were published in Russia, at age twenty, before the family's departure to England. The next two volumes of poetry were published in his Berlin years. He continued to write and publish poetry throughout his life even though he became primarily known in the U.S. for his novels. Nabokov also wrote short stories and literary criticism. Mary, his first novel, was published in 1926; his last novel was Ada, published in 1969. Among the most popular Nabokov books are Laughter in the Dark (1932), Speak Memory (1951), and Lolita (1955), which was not published in the U.S. for several years due to its controversial portrayal of the sexual relationship between an American step-father and his teenaged step-daughter. Pale Fire was writting during 1960-61 and published in 1962.

During his lifetime, Nabokov was awarded many literary awards, including two Guggenheim fellowships. He spoke and wrote fluently in several languages and held a research fellowship in Zoology at Harvard. During most of his stay in the United States, he taught at Wellesley College.

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