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In 'Letters to Véra,' Vladimir Nabokov Proves True Love

Dale Chong |
December 1, 2015 | 7:12 p.m. PST


The Nabokovs in 1969 (Wikimedia Commons)
The Nabokovs in 1969 (Wikimedia Commons)
My love, my darling, puppuss, my happiness, my little sunshine, Pussykins, my grand ciel rose, my life. To receive such terms of endearment today seem to be too much, save movies and romance novels. This is the type of romance people dream of, but never quite realize. Endearments and greetings such as these often derive from extreme adoration and dependency—both of which Vladimir Nabokov had for his wife, Vera. Together, they live a romance and a marriage (with the exception of Paris, 1937), that was quite literally, one for the books.

Like any fairy-tale romance, the Nabokov’s begins in the dark night painted with stars.The two met at a charity masquerade ball in Berlin on May 8, 1923. Two-and-a-half months later, Nabokov pens his first of many letters to Vera, which now has been published in “Letters to Vera.” 

His first penned words:

“I won’t hide it: I’m so unused to being—well, understood, perhaps,…Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought—and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.”

And so begins the story of Vladimir and Vera. Throughout the beginning of their 53-year long relationship, with a marriage that lasted half a century, Vladimir wrote. In the early years he writes constantly while he is off on his travels, overflowing with passion to his love of his everyday life—his travels, the food, encounters, the work, and even his simple thoughts from the days.

Nabokov paints a picture of his own romance within his letters to Vera, simultaneously he provides the reader a glimpse into one of the most creative and interesting minds of the 20th century. Readers will find the same poetic language in “Letters to Vera” as they do in his other writings, such as “Lolita.” When you read further in to the life of the Nabokovs, you’ll find that the romance many often dream of, is often quite real.

Reach Associate Arts + Culture Editor Dale Chong here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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