“Lolita is Famous, Not I”: Ten Fun Facts about Vladimir Nabokov

  1. Nabokov would have all of an interviewer’s questions mailed to him in print, so he could respond with written answers. He claimed this was because he would not want a first draft of his answer written in a newspaper. If the interview was taped, the interview would be read from a script (Feifer).

  2. According to Professor Brian Boyd, Nabokov’s ideal audience would be a room filled with little Nabokovs (Boyd 1).

  3. While living in Berlin, Nabokov wrote for the Russian newspaper, The Rudder, had a number of walk-on appearances in German movies, and was a tutor, a translator, and a tennis instructor (Neubauer 329).

  4. Nabokov was an insomniac as addressed in his autobiography, Speak, Memory:
    Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals. It is a mental torture I find debasing. The strain and drain of composition often force me, alas, to swallow a strong pill that gives me an hour or two of frightful nightmares or even to accept the comic relief of a midday snooze… but I simply cannot get used to the nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius (Nabokov 108).

  5. Nabokov was also a lepidopterist (a specialist in the study of butterflies). Here is a link to some of his drawings.

  6. Nabokov on his experience at Cambridge University:
    Not once in my three years of Cambridge-repeat: not once- did I visit the University Library, or even bother to locate it (I know its new place now), or find out if there existed a college library where books might be borrowed for reading in one’s digs. I skipped lectures. I sneaked to London and elsewhere. I conducted several love affairs simultaneously (Nabokov 268).

  7. If you are a burgeoning fan of Nabokov, the Vladimir Nabokov Society was founded on December 29, 1978 and has some great resources. The society’s work includes the Nabokovian and Nabokov Studies. The online resource for the Vladimir Nabokov Society is called Zembla (Neubauer 333).

  8. Nabokov had grapheme-color synesthesia, as did his mother, wife, and his son, Dmitri. His mother and his son additionally had sound-color synesthesia (“Vladimir”).

  9. Nabokov pronounced “Ada,” ah-da. If you don’t know how to pronounce Vladimir Nabokov’s name: “My name, if you must know, is vla-DEE-mir, to rhyme with redeemer, na-BOAK-off. But only a Russian can say it with its true inflections" (Whitman).

  10. Nabokov taught at Stanford, Wellesley, Cornell, and Harvard (as a visiting lecturer), and was a working entomologist at Harvard, where he discovered several species and subspecies of butterflies (Whitman).

Works Cited

Boyd, Brian. “Who is My ‘Nabokov’?”  Ubandus Review 10. (2007); 1-3. Jstor. Web. January 3,    2015.  

Feifer, George. “Talking about Nabokov.” Russia Now. Russia Beyond the Headlines, February    24, 2010. Web. January 3, 2015.

Nabakov, Vladimir. Speak, Memory. New York: Vintage International, 1989. Print.

Neubauer, Paul. “Introduction.” Amerikastudien / American Studies 47.3 (2002); 329-334. Jstor.    Web. January 3, 2015.

“Vladimir Nabokov.” Famous Synesthetes. Synesthesia Digital Library, n.d. Web. January 3,    2015.

Whitman, Alden. “Vladimir Nabokov, Author of 'Lolita' and 'Ada,' Is Dead.” Books. The New    York Times, July 5, 1977. Web. January 3, 2015.