Pale Fire: Biography: Vladimir Nabokov
Vladmir Nabokov was born on April 22, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was named after his father, who was imprisoned for several months in 1908 because he protested the Czar's dissolution of the parliament. The younger Vladimir attended school and then privately published his first volume of poetry in 1916. This was possible because of a large inheritance from his uncle that he eventually lost as a result of the Russian Revolution that began in 1917. It was during his childhood in Russia that he developed his lifelong fascination with butterflies.
In 1919, the aristocratic Nabokov family fled the Russian Revolution and went to Germany, and young Nabokov matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. While Nabokov was a student, his father was killed while attempting to stop an assassination by a Russian extremist.
Nabokov settled in Berlin and married a Russian immigrant of Jewish descent, Vera, with whom he would have a son. He began to write and publish his work in Russian. His first novel, Mashenka, was released in 1926. He remained in Berlin until 1937, when he and his family left due to their dislike of the Nazi regime and their fear that Vera would face persecution. The family relocated to Paris, where Nabokov continued to write. He began to feel that English would be the best language for his works, and his first English novel, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, was composed while in Paris.
Just ahead of the invading Germans, the Nabokovs fled to the United States in 1940. In the United States, Nabokov would teach at Wellesley College, Harvard University, and Cornell University. He wrote for The New Yorker and continued to adjust to writing in English. In 1945, he became an American citizen.
Nabokov's fame was just beginning. Lolita, a book that discusses a man's sexual relationship with his 12-year-old step-daughter, was released in 1955 in France, but it was not released in the United States until 1958 due to anxiety about its content. The controversy over this text made it a huge success, and Nabokov was able to live on the proceeds while writing other books. In 1959, the Nabokovs moved to Switzerland, but the author continued to write in English. Pale Fire, his fourteenth book, was published in 1962. He continued to work, writing and translating his previous works into English, until his death in 1977.