BOOKS: DIVINITY IN THE DETAILS

A LONG-AWAITED COLLECTION OF SHORT FICTION BY VLADIMIR NABOKOV IS A TREAT FOR OLD ADMIRERS AND ENTRY-LEVEL FANS ALIKE

VLADIMIR NABOKOV DIED IN 1977 to mixed reviews. Not everyone was captivated by his erudition, multilingual wordplay and narrative frolics. But those who tuned to his wavelength came to appreciate that the style and gamesmanship so intimidating to his competition disguised the author's larger task: to heighten the pleasures of the natural world and the gratifications of personal creativity.

Sensuality is an underappreciated quality in Nabokov's writing, and with good reason. Sinfully rich novels like The Gift, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Pale Fire and even that great American road novel Lolita are cleverly defended against casual entry. Nabokov's short...

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