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Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate List

Here is a list of the best Nabokov books, some I have read myself, some that I did research on, and all have great reviews!

1. Pale Fire (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListIn Pale Fire Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade’s self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry and one-upmanship, and political intrigue….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

2. Lolita (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListAwe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in , Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

3. Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListSpeak, Memory, first published in 1951 as and then assiduously revised in 1966, is an elegant and rich evocation of Nabokov’s life and times, even as it offers incisive insights into his major works, including , , , , t, and .  …
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

4. Letters to Véra (Vintage International) (2017)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListNo marriage of a major twentieth-century writer is quite as beguiling as that of Vladimir Nabokov’s to Véra Slonim. She shared his delight at the enchantment of life’s trifles and literature’s treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humor of any woman he had met. From their first encounter in 1923, Vladimir’s letters to Véra chronicle a half-century-long love story, one that is playful, romantic, and memorable. At the same time, the letters reveal much about their author. We see the infectious fascination with which Vladimir…
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

5. Pnin (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListPnin is a professor of Russian at an American college who takes the wrong train to deliver a lecture in a language he cannot master. Pnin is a tireless lover who writes to his treacherous Liza: "A genius needs to keep so much in store, and thus cannot offer you the whole of himself as I do." Pnin is the focal point of subtle academic conspiracies he cannot begin to comprehend, yet he stages a faculty party to end all faculty parties forever….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

6. The Defense (1990)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListNabokov’s third novel, , is a chilling story of obsession and madness. As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive,  distracted, withdrawn, sullen–an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates. He takes up chess as a refuge from the anxiety of his everyday life.  His talent is prodigious and he rises to the rank of grandmaster–but at a cost:  in Luzhin’ s obsessive mind, the game of chess gradually supplants the world of reality.   His own world falls apart during a crucial championship match,…
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

7. The Gift (1991)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate Listis the last of the novels Nabokov wrote in his native Russian and the crowning achievement of that period in his literary career.  It is also his ode to Russian literature, evoking the works of Pushkin, Gogol, and others in the course of its narrative:  the story of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev, an impoverished émigré poet living in Berlin, who dreams of the book he will someday write–a book very much like itself….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

8. Lectures on Russian Literature (2002)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListThe author’s observations on the great nineteenth-century Russian writers-Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Gorky, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. “This volume… never once fails to instruct and stimulate. This is a great Russian talking of great Russians” (Anthony Burgess). Edited and with an Introduction by Fredson Bowers; illustrations….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

9. Despair (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListExtensively revised by Nabokov in 1965–thirty years after its original publication– is the wickedly inventive and richly derisive story of Hermann, a man who undertakes the perfect crime–his own murder….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

10. Laughter in the Dark (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListAlbinus, a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, abandons his wife for a lover half his age: Margot, who wants to become a movie star herself. When Albinus introduces her to Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. What emerges is an elegantly sardonic and irresistibly ironic novel of desire, deceit, and deception, a curious romance set in the film world of Berlin in the 1930s….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

11. The Eye (1990)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListNabokov’s fourth novel, is as much a farcical detective story as it is a profoundly refractive tale about the vicissitudes of identities and appearances. Nabokov’s protagonist, Smurov, is a lovelorn, excruciatingly self-conscious Russian émigré living in prewar Berlin, who commits suicide after being humiliated by a jealous husband, only to suffer even greater indignities in the afterlife….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

12. Invitation to a Beheading (1989)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListLike Kafka’s The Castle, Invitation to a Beheading embodies a vision of a bizarre and irrational world. In an unnamed dream country, the young man Cincinnatus C. is condemned to death by beheading for “gnostical turpitude,” an imaginary crime that defies definition. Cincinnatus spends his last days in an absurd jail, where he is visited by chimerical jailers, an executioner who masquerades as a fellow prisoner, and by his in-laws, who lug their furniture with them into his cell. When Cincinnatus is led out to be executed, he simply wills his executioners out of existence: they disappear,…
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

13. Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1990)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListPublished two weeks after his seventieth birthday, is one of Nabokov’s greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist.  It tells a love story troubled by incest.  But more: it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue.   is no less than the supreme work of an imagination at white heat.This is the first American edition to include the extensive and ingeniously  sardonic appendix by the author, written under the…
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov

14. Lectures on Literature (2002)

 Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate ListFor two decades, first at Wellesley and then at Cornell, Nabokov introduced undergraduates to the delights of great fiction. Here, collected for the first time, are his famous lectures, which include Mansfield Park, Bleak House, and Ulysses. Edited and with a Foreword by Fredson Bowers; Introduction by John Updike; illustrations….
Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov , Fredson Bowers , et al.

Best Nabokov Books: The Ultimate List

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some nabokov books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

The Five Senses in Nabokov's Works

Author(s): Marie Bouchet, Julie Loison-Charles, Isabelle Poulin
ID: 2879888, Publisher: Springer International Publishing;Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2020, Size: 4 Mb, Format: pdf

Between Rhyme and Reason: Vladimir Nabokov, Translation, and Dialogue

Author(s): Stanislav Shvabrin
ID: 2401440, Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Year: 2019, Size: 3 Mb, Format: pdf

Think, Write, Speak: Uncollected Essays, Reviews, Interviews, and Letters to the Editor

Author(s): Vladimir Nabokov; Brian Boyd; Anastasia Tolstoy
ID: 2437849, Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group, Year: 2019, Size: 10 Mb, Format: epub

Please note that this booklist is not errorless. Some books are really best-sellers according to The Wall Street Journal, others are written by unknown writers. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant resources you could recommend? Leave a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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