“My Nabokov references are everywhere on the album. I can’t believe a writer as beautiful as him existed; the way he starts Lolita, the way he describes a hazy sunlit room, and I am with him all the way as he describes dust particles and cherry-red lips and goose bumps and baby-down skin and he inspires me never to be less than the best, most visual writer I can be.”
- Lana Del Rey

Nabokov’s Love Letters

Véra and Vladimir Nabokov were married for fifty-two years—a record, apparently, among literary couples—and their intimacy was nearly hermetic. When they were apart, he pined for her grievously. She was his first reader, his agent, his typist, his archivist, his translator, his dresser, his money manager, his mouthpiece, his muse, his teaching assistant, his driver, his bodyguard (she carried a pistol in her handbag), the mother of his child, and, after he died, the implacable guardian of his legacy. Vladimir dedicated nearly all his books to her, and Véra famously saved “Lolita” from incineration in a trash can when he wanted to destroy it.

Read more from Judith Thurman on the first complete volume of Nabokov’s letters to his wife, “Letters to Véra,” published by Knopf this month. 

Photograph courtesy estate of Vladimir Nabokov