Nabokov’s Diagrams/ The Myth of Vera
If you haven’t read this yet,do it now. It will make you happy.
” On September1, 1942, The Nabokovs moved to Cambridge… at 8 Craigie Circle, apartment 35, a dingy little third-floor flat in a four story brick apartment house at the end of a cul de sac. They would live here for almost another six years… In this two bedroom apartment, Vera and Dmitri shared one bedroom while Nabokov had the other, where he would write late into the night…under an ’ old lady with feet of stone and above a young woman with hypersensitive hearing’… One hundred dollars worth of secondhand furniture was all they needed to deck out the apartment…Their friend Wilma Kirby Miller and everyone close to them at the time - and everyone close to them says much the same- ’ I never knew any family who cared less about possessions, food, anything. Their only luxury was Dmitri.’- who had expensive toys and went to some of the most prestigious private schools in New England.
Sometimes part of the school fees would be paid off by Vera’s giving lessons or working as secretary at Harvard but as a rule she had quite enough work as housekeeper and mother and in typing up the pages her husband had left o the floor after the previous nights’ composition. Wilma Kerby Miller called her a “one- man woman she worked with him, helped him, it was her great interest in life. She married a genius, and saw that he had every opportunity.” Harry and Elena Levin too were struck by Vera’s certainty that her husband was the greatest living writer, and the support she afforded him with her business sense, her secretarial skills, her meticulous compilation of reviews, her sheer conviction and dedication.”- Brian Boyd, ‘Vladimir Nabokov; The American Years’
“From the start I knew that Mrs. Nabokov was the worst kind of subject: She was formal, she was stoic, she was private, selfless and capable of self-dramatization — all the qualities on which biography tends to founder.”…
Although a “no trespassing” sign seemed to loom over the life of Vèra Slonim Nabokov (1902-91), Schiff ignored it. “Vèra lived by myths: She never contributed to Vladimir Nabokov’s work, she was never worried about the publication of ‘Lolita,’ never felt destitute when the family had no money, never raised her voice when her husband told her he was in the midst of an affair. All of these statements were false.” - Stacy Schiff, author of ‘Vèra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)’