Vladimir Nabokov — The Gift

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Penguin Paperback, 2001. 402 pp. Light wear to cover and edges else a sound and clean copy, very good

The Gift is Vladimir Nabokov’s final Russian novel, and is considered to be his farewell to the world he was leaving behind

Nabokov wrote it between 1935 and 1937 while living in Berlin, and it was published in serial form under his nom de plume, Vladimir Sirin. The Gift’s fourth chapter, a pseudo-biography of the Russian writer Nikolay Chernyshevsky, was censored from publication in the Russian émigré journal that published the book’s four other chapters. The story’s apparent protagonist is Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev, a Russian writer living in Berlin after his family fled the Bolshevik Revolution. Fyodor’s literary ambitions and his development as a writer shape the book. In the fifth and final chapter, Fyodor states his ambition to write a book that in description is very similar to The Gift. In an interview to BBC2, Nabokov cited Fyodor as an example that not all the lives of his characters are grotesque or tragic; he said that Fyodor “is blessed with a faithful love and an early recognition of his genius. It is possible to interpret the book as metafiction, and imagine that the book was actually written by Fyodor later in his life, though this is not the only possible interpretation. Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, translated the book’s first chapter into English; Michael Scammell completed the rest. Nabokov then revised the translations of all five chapters in 1961

Vladimir Nabokov — The Gift