Books by Simon Karlinsky

Released: April 3, 2001

This collection first appeared in 1979, but since that time 59 new letters have emerged in the now notorious correspondence between the jokester novelist Nabokov and the somewhat stern man of letters Wilson. Karlinsky's new edition incorporates those and adds some annotations largely inspired by books that have appeared since 1979, especially Brian Boyd's monumental biography of Nabokov and Wilson's five volumes of journals. What obtained in 22 years ago still holds: as Kirkus put it, here is a "correspondence in which these tetchy titans are most often seen with their hackles up and their blind spots front and center." Nabokov mocks Wilson's taste in fiction; Wilson abhors Nabokov's lame puns, and then the main event occurs: their knockdown drag-out over metrics and Pushkin. Karlinsky, we noted correctly back then, favors Nabokov, and his introduction is still "pompous," as we argued, and appears here to be identical to the original, despite the publisher's claim otherwise. Without quite calling a draw, Kirkus concluded that "whichever way the one-upmanship came out, followers of literary give-and-take will find both verbal warriors in top form." Read full book review >