Book Discussion: The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov
Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L Street NW
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.