Vladimir Nabokov, 1899­1977, Russian-American author, b. St. Petersburg, Russia. He emigrated to England after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and graduated from Cambridge in 1922. He moved to the United States in 1940. From 1948 to 1959 he was professor of Russian literature at Cornell Univ. He moved to Switzerland in 1959.

One of the great novelists of the 20th cent., Nabokov was an extraordinarily imaginative writer, often experimenting with the form of the novel. Although his works are frequently obscure and puzzling‹filled with grotesque incidents, word games, and literary allusions‹they are always erudite, witty, and intriguing. Before 1940, Nabokov wrote in Russian under the name V. Sirin. Among his early novels are Mary (1926, tr. 1970) and Invitation to a Beheading (1938, tr. 1959). His first book in English was The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1938).    

Nabokov¹s most widely known work is undoubtedly Lolita (1958). The story of a middle-aged European intellectual¹s infatuation with a 12-year-old American ³nymphet,² Lolita was considered scandalous when it was first published. Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969) is a philosophical novel that is both the chronicle of a long incestuous love affair and a probe into the nature of time. Among Nabokov¹s other novels are Bend Sinister (1947), Pnin (1957), Transparent Things (1972), and Look at the Harlequins! (1974).    

Nabokov¹s volumes of poetry include Poems and Problems (1970). Among collections of his short stories are Nine Stories (1947), Nabokov¹s Dozen (1958), and A Russian Beauty (1973); many of them are gathered in The Stories of Vladimir Nobokov (1995). Among his other works are a critical study of Gogol (1944); translations from the Russian, notably a four-volume version of Pushkin¹s Eugene Onegin (1964); and several autobiographical volumes, most notably Speak, Memory (1966). His college lectures, posthumously published, include Lectures on Literature: British, French, and German Writers (1980) and Lectures on Russian Literature (1981). He also achieved an international reputation as a lepidopterist.

-The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001