Vladimir Nabokov insisted that a writer's biography should
concentrate on what he called the story of a style. In his case
this means not only an account of elaborate metaphorical patterns,
distinctive syntax, and arcane lexical registers, but a study of
the novels' complex human drama, the matrices of literary allusion,
the play of ambiguity and contradiction, the recurrence of scenes
organized around meditations on aesthetic objects, and his penchant
for a distinctive sort of suspended conclusion. Building on the
impressive body of secondary material devoted to Nabokov's work,
David Rampton tells that story as it develops over a novelistic
career that lasted more than fifty years. He argues for a complex
mix of change and continuity and concludes that the open-endedness
of so much of Nabokov's fiction, the mysteries that abide, seem to
be part of its point. The comprehensive portrait that results make
this literary life essential reading for those studying Nabokov's
work and for those curious to know more about one of the twentieth
century's most compelling and provocative writers.
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