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Vladimir Nabokov discusses 'Lolita' in 1959

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He was a professor of Russian and European literature, curator of butterflies at Harvard, and lent his name to the wood nymph butterfly. But the nymphet Vladimir Nabokov was most famous for naming was Lolita, immortalized in the book by the same name.  In this three-part discussion with interviewer Kerry Ellard on CBC Radio's Assignment, the range of subjects discussed is wide: his preference for writing in English, his novel Pnin, his recently completed translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, and the "keen spiritual pang which an émigré feels." But the discussion always leads back to Lolita, and all the controversy surrounding it.

• Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on April 22, 1899.  His family went into exile in 1919, after the Bolshevik revolution, and he eventually emigrated to the U.S.  He died in Montreux, Switzerland on July 2, 1977.

• In 1925, he married Vera Slonim, and they had one child, Dmitri, born in 1934.

• Nabokov began his writing career as a poet, but his published works included fiction, literary criticism and studies of butterflies.  He wrote in Russian, English and French.

• The success of Lolita allowed him the freedom to quit his teaching job at Cornell University and move to Switzerland, where he continued to write.  His last major work, Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, was published in 1969.

Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Nov. 30, 1959
Guest(s): Vladimir Nabokov
Host: Bill McNeil, Bob Willson
Interviewer: Kerry Ellard
Duration: 19:02
This 1959 interview was broadcast in three parts, on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2.

Last updated: November 24, 2014

Page consulted on November 24, 2014

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