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Book Discussion: The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov



Date: 3/14/2013
Time: 6:00 PM

Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L Street NW
Washington DC

A startling and revelatory examination of Nabokov’s life and works—bringing new insight into one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic authors.

Vladimir Nabokov witnessed the horrors of his century, escaping Revolutionary Russia then Germany under Hitler, and fleeing France with his Jewish wife and son just weeks before Paris fell to the Nazis. He repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to human suffering to write artful tales of depravity. But what if Nabokov was up to far more than readers ever imagined?

Using newly-declassified intelligence files and recovered military history, journalist Andrea Pitzer argues that far from merely being a proponent of art for art’s sake, Vladimir Nabokov managed to hide disturbing history in his fiction—history that has gone unnoticed for decades. Nabokov emerges as a kind of documentary conjurer, spending the most productive decades of his career recording a saga of forgotten concentration camps and searing bigotry. Lolita reveals a Nabokov appalled by American anti-Semitism. The lunatic narrator of Pale Fire recalls Russian tragedies that once haunted the world. From Tsarist courts to Nazi film sets, from CIA front organizations to wartime Casablanca, the story of Nabokov’s family is the story of his century—and Pitzer shows how both are woven inextricably into his fiction.

There will be a reception following this event.

 

About the Author...

Andrea Pitzer founded Nieman Storyboard, the narrative nonfiction site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from USA Today to Poet Lore. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, she presented on Nabokov’s fiction at the Modern Language Association Conference in 2009 and has spoken on narrative journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

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