Born to an eminent Russian family, Vladimir Nabokov came to America fleeing the Nazis and remembered his time here as the richest of his life. Indeed, his best work flowed from his response to this storied land. With charm and insight, Robert Roper fills out this period in the writer's life: his friendship with Edmund Wilson, his time at Cornell, his role at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. But Nabokov in America finds its narrative heart in his and his family's serial sojourns into the West. Roper has mined fresh sources to bring detail to these journeys, and traces their significant influence in Nabokov's work: on two-lane highways and in late-'40s motels and cafés, we feel Lolita draw near, and understand Nabokov's seductive familiarity with the American mundane. Nabokov in America is also a love letter to U.S. literature, in Nabokov's broad embrace of it from Melville to the Beats. Reading Roper, we feel anew the rich learning and the Romantic mind behind some of Nabokov's most beloved books.
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