Friday, November 20, 2015

The 10 best Vladimir Nabokov books

Brian Boyd, University Distinguished Professor of English, University of Auckland, wrote an MA thesis that Vladimir Nabokov called “brilliant” and a PhD thesis that Véra Nabokov thought the best thing written about her husband to date. His biography of Nabokov won awards on four continents; his criticism has been translated into eighteen languages. He has edited Nabokov's English-language novels, autobiography, butterfly writings, and translations from Russian poetry. Boyd is the editor of Letters to Véra.

One entry on his list of the ten best Vladimir Nabokov books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Lolita (1955)

Nabokov’s most accessible masterpiece, told by one of literature’s most seductive monsters—and another novel often rated the greatest of the century. A handsome 38-year-old pedophile hunts and traps the 12-year-old love of his life. Perhaps the only scandalous work to shock later readers even more than its initial audience, it assaults our imaginations as it mingles memory and desire, passion and playfulness, tenderness and cruelty, love and its contraries: lust, self-love, hatred. Endless variations on the hunter hunted offer surprises and ironies that deepen as we reread. For all its accessibility Lolita may still elude us more than even the mirage world of Pale Fire or the opulent antiworld of Ada.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lolita appears on Billy Collins' six favorite books list, Charlotte Runcie's list of the ten best bad mothers in literature, Kathryn Williams's list of fifteen notable works on lust, Boris Kachka's six favorite books list, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books that have anxiety at their heart, John Banville's five best list of books on early love and infatuation, Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list. It is Lena Dunham's favorite book.

--Marshal Zeringue