At the age of twenty-one, Brian Boyd wrote a thesis on Vladimir Nabokov that the famous author called “brilliant.” After gaining exclusive access to the writer’s archives, he wrote a two-part, award-winning biography, Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years (1990) and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years (1991). This collection features essays written by Boyd since completing the biography, incorporating material he gleaned from his research as well as new discoveries and formulations.
Boyd confronts Nabokov’s life, career, and legacy; his art, science, and thought; his subtle humor and puzzle-like storytelling; his complex psychological portraits; and his inheritance from, reworking of, and affinities with Shakespeare, Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Machado de Assis. Boyd offers new ways of reading Nabokov’s best English-language works: Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada, and the unparalleled autobiography, Speak, Memory, and he discloses otherwise unknown information about the author’s world. Sharing his personal reflections, Boyd recounts the adventures, hardships, and revelations of researching Nabokov’s biography and his unusual finds in the archives, including materials still awaiting publication. The first to focus on Nabokov’s metaphysics, Boyd cautions against their being used as the key to unlock all of the author’s secrets, showing instead the many other rooms in Nabokov’s castle of fiction that need exploring, such as his humor, narrative invention, and psychological insight into characters and readers alike. Appreciating Nabokov as novelist, memoirist, poet, translator, scientist, and individual, Boyd helps us understand more than ever the author’s multifaceted genius.
About Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd is University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Auckland. His work on American, Brazilian, English, Greek, Irish, New Zealand, and Russian literature, from epics to comics, has appeared in seventeen languages and has won awards on four continents. He is the author of Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years, books on Pale Fire and Ada, and the enormous AdaOnline. He has edited Nabokov’s English fiction, autobiography, butterfly writings, and verse translations and is now editing a collection of the author’s letters to his wife. Also known for his evolutionary and cognitive work, he is the author of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction and the forthcoming Why Lyrics Last: Evolution, Cognition, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets and is coeditor of Evolution, Literature, and Film: A Reader. He is currently working on a biography of the philosopher Karl Popper.
Brian Boyd is, without question, the foremost single authority on Vladimir Nabokov’s life and art and has been generally considered such ever since the publication of his magisterial two-volume critical biography, Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Not only is anything that Boyd writes about Nabokov significant, but his study of Nabokov is remarkably dynamic — there’s just no other word for it. Stalking Nabokov tells a fascinating story of continual intellectual rediscovery and of Boyd’s own development as reader, student, literary sleuth, biographer, critic, colleague, collaborator, mentor, and, best of all, rereader. - Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, College of the Holy Cross, president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society and co-moderator of the Vladimir Nabokov Electronic Forum (NABOKV-L)
“At the end of the twentieth century, Vladimir Nabokov was judged as one of the ten greatest writers in the world of that century. And I can confirm that the two best works ever written on Nabokov—anywhere in the world—are Brian Boyd’s two-volume account of Nabokov’s life and work. In these volumes, the specifics of Nabokov’s life are thorough and precisely correct, and the description, evaluation, and interpretation of all of Nabokov’s writings remain to this day the finest ever written. All Nabokov scholars must use Boyd’s work and interpretations as a basis in order to go forward from any other perspective. So without question, he is the greatest Nabokov scholar in the world.” — Stephen Jan Parker, University of Kansas, founding editor of The Nabokovian and author of Understanding Vladimir Nabokov
Enchanted Hunter - ‘Stalking Nabokov,’ Essays by Brian Boyd
The New York Times Book Review – March 30, 2012 (Excerpt)
Shortly before coming to America in 1940, on a ship that would be sunk by Nazi U-boats on its next voyage, Vladimir Nabokov wrote a novel about biography and art entitled “The Real Life of Sebastian Knight.” In it we are advised to “remember that what you are told is really threefold: shaped by the teller, reshaped by the listener, concealed from both by the dead man of the tale.” No words might be better kept in mind while reading Brian Boyd’s “Stalking Nabokov.”
Boyd is best known for his tale of that teller — the two-volume biography he published more than 20 years ago, whose pivot is that fateful Atlantic crossing. A contextualizing word is in order on that biography. Nabokov was a writer of genius and an accomplished lepidopterist who narrowly escaped death at the hands of not one but two totalitarian regimes, lived a largely itinerant life, was intensely private, was personally unknown to his biographer, and delighted in deception. And he was the author not only of novels, stories, poems, plays, translations, literary criticism, scientific papers and chess problems in three languages, but also of a memoir, “Speak, Memory,” which is among the most novel and beautiful ever written, and thereby largely sufficient to terrify anyone aspiring to retell its tale. Chronicling this man’s life and art was Boyd’s task. Imagine it. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Nobel, and any other good bookstore.