Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Letters to Vera” as Want to Read:
Letters to Vera
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Letters to Vera

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  48 reviews

No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer lasted longer than Vladimir Nabokov's. Véra Slonim shared his delight at the enchantment of life's trifles and literature's treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humour of any woman he had met. From their meeting in 1921, Vladimir's letters to his beloved Véra form
Hardcover, 864 pages
Published September 25th 2014 by Penguin Classics (first published 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  379 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Given Nabokov's penchant for creating a fictitious persona to present to the world, his early letters are a rare glimpse of the man before he has achieved wealth, fame, and a polished facade. These letters to Vera, small masterpieces, are a rare gift.

This review should come with a warning: I'm highly conflicted about the works of Vladimir Nabokov. In a college class I was once asked to read a selection of paragraphs by various famous authors, without knowing the authors' actual names. I loved al
Mar 25, 2013 marked it as to-read

Because I'll read anything the man wrote, I'll want to read these (esp. on the lookout for ANY letters dealing with his travels across America); but considering his fiercely defended demand for tight-lidded privacy from public eyes, I'm sure he would be less than thrilled with this publication. And it's rather convenient that Dmitri isn't around now to snuff this out. I wonder how Brian Boyd feels about this, or if he is involved at all...
Liina Bachmann
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Like with many letters a lot of this is the exchange of information and as the book shows only one side of the correspondence it isn't always "interesting" and "entertaining" to read. What helps is that there is a very thorough appendix and a very good foreword form both the translator and editor plus a timeline of when the Nabokov's were apart i.e what was the backdrop to each batch of the letters.
The book starts with correspondence dripping of passion and desire form V.N part. It truly is bea
Laryssa Almeida
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
get you a man who can do both: come up with russian riddles and endearing creative little nicknames
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: vladimir-nabokov
… And there are things that are hard to talk about – you’ll rub off their marvellous pollen at the touch of a word …
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a publication of the complete Letters to Véra, not a selection. This means that it is extremely difficult for someone to engage in reading it, if there's not a special sympathy towards Nabokov not only as a writer but also as a person, since the letters are of a great number, often long, and highly personal.

Reading the letters Vladimir Nabokov wrote to his wife Véra sheds light to a great part of his work. They were never meant for an audience to read them, so his guard is let down and s
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I feel like I've started a lot of reviews lately with these exact words, but: This is for hardcore Nabokov devotees only. Please bear in mind that this is not the selected letters to Véra but the complete letters to Véra, so the flowery declarations of love or discussions of work-in-progress that you might expect are far outnumbered by the discussion of finances, train arrival times, and complaints that Véra does not write him enough. Unless you are absolutely fascinated by the details of obtain ...more
Larry Wang
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nabokov, non-fiction
Beautiful prose from Nabokov. Parts definitely reminiscent in his novels and stories. Interesting to see the difference in the passionate youthful writing in the 1930s and the more straightforward writing in the 1950s and later.
U.R. Bowie
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
[Note: for ease in typing I have throughout omitted the diacritical mark over the “e” in the name Véra]

These are probably the last of Nabokov’s letters to be published. For those who have not read the earlier collections it is worth pointing out here that they are more interesting, more full of insights into the literary works of the great master. See (1) The Nabokov-Wilson Letters: Correspondence Between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, 1940-1971, edited by Simon Karlinsky (NY: Ha
Rachel Jackson
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a Vladimir Nabokov aficionado, and I devour as much of his work as possible. Iit's a long process, but I'm slowly getting more acquainted with his novels, stories, poems — and, now, letters. It's fascinating to see the process behind a writer's work, and, to some degree, that's exactly what Letters to Vera is. The book spans almost the entire length of the couple's five-decade marriage and, one-sided as it is, paints a very vivid picture of the relationship between Vladimir and Vera.

The book
Dec 20, 2015 added it
This book is is the collection of Vladimir Nabokov's letters to his wife Véra during their various times apart in the course of their marriage. Mostly mundane details, such as people he's met and meals he's eaten, along with some delving into monetary affairs and his much-beloved hobby of butterfly collecting. This isn't the kind of thing you really read in one sitting - though in all fairness, when would anyone's 500+ pages of domestic affairs be interesting enough to do that?

Still, if you've e
Joan Colby
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Many of the letters by Nabokov to Vera tend to be mundane, especially the earlier ones . However, his descriptions and included poems are as always striking. The letters are replete with effusions of love, most couched in private addresses: mousekins and the like. I found the letters written in the United States while Nabokov was on reading tours to be the most interesting. He continually describes the butterflies he collects, the meals he eats, his aches and pains, and assures Vera constantly o ...more
Bookforum Magazine
"Letters to Vera presents neither an elitist prick nor a sainted artist; written with easy grace and sometimes ardent haste, they display rather a complex but morally ordinary human being whose gifts and flaws were both thrown into high relief by his transcendentally expressive genius."

–Mary Gaitskill reviews Nabokov's Letters to Vera in the February/March 2016 issue of Bookforum

To read the rest of this review, go to Bookforum:
Inderjit Sanghera
Dec 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Whilst the letters have some interesting revelations about Nabokov's literary tastes which we previously weren't aware of (he once lectured on Katharine Mansfield and enjoyed Arnold Bennett-both of which surprised me) I find this tom-peeping upon he private lives, memories and love of authors distasteful and ridiculous as well as disrespectful to a couple who valued privacy.
Sarah Chao
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary and intimate collection of letters to his wife, allows us a glimpse into Nabokov's generous nature and his enduring marriage. Probably history's greatest love letters from a literary genius. I immediately fell in love with Nabokov himself: intense and unrestrained correspondence, lined with details of daily meals, events and genuine opinions.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Good book to finish on Valentine's Day. 50+ years of correspondence. It's a shame she destroyed her half of it. The drawing for his little son of the toga-clad Roman skating a figure VIII is priceless.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Mostly a catalogue of everything Nabokov ever ate for lunch.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As you read through Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his beloved wife, Vera, you come to know him intimately, more so, I believe, than you would have done had you actually been a friend of the novelist and essayist, lover of butterflies in every shape and form. The letters vary in emotional tone from sweetness and cloying to angry and disappointed. Vera doesn’t write to him enough, she fails to answers questions he asks, important questions: Does she love him as much as he loves her? Does she miss ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A very moving collection! I would recommend reading it in intervals. It’s a good book to have near when you’re reading something else. If you only focus on page count, it will begin to get a bit repetitive. It’s best if it taken in like poetry. It will be enjoyed and appreciated much more that way :)

*still have to finish it completely but since it is a collection of letters, as I said above, I am taking my time on it. If I focus on page count, I lose interest. Therefore, I am just marking it as
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2019
I read this after seeing excerpts online of the love letters Vladimir wrote to his wife. They're entrancingly poetic and, to put it simply, everything any girl would want to hear a guy say to her. But this book was so much more than that. It was essentially a diary of his adult life, told through the lens of what he wanted to share with his wife (which is pretty much everything, down to simple everyday details). There are even things like pictures he drew and logic puzzles that he crafted. It's ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eh, I can't really tell if I liked reading this or not. I just liked the endearments Nabokov used to describe Vera. It was pretty funny and touching all at the same. Don't bother reading this. It's not very entertaining or a page turner or anything. I'm glad I read it though, and I'm not sure why, but something tells me it was worth it. Oh, who knows! It's a bunch of fucking letters. How good could it really be? Don't expect much. Even if I gave it four stars.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are a fan of Nabokov, this is a delightful read. There are quite a few end notes, so the length of the book is a bit deceiving.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I love you. Infinitely and inexpressibly. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and here I am writing this. My love, my happiness.”
-- Vladimir Nabokov to Vera, January 19, 1925
Manel radhia
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
i probably need to read it soe other time
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A physically heavy book, so often difficult to hold, yet i cannot imagine how they would have reduced or split up the work into multi-volumes. I took my time reading this, going over the footnotes. Nabokov's wife destroyed all of her correspondence, which makes the reading of the lettera very lopsided. She also destroyed evidence of an affair he had in the 1920's-30's. After the 1930's, there's a batch of letters in the 1940's when he was on the road lecturing, but after that, the Nabokovs were ...more
Jen Holman
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I didn't read this book cover to cover, but more flipped through and read parts that intrigued me. I have never read any Nabokov, but was struck (and sometimes moved to tears) by the way he wrote to his wife, Vera. It was so lyrical, whimsical - beautiful.

"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 wi
Bruce Crown
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don't know how I feel about the fact that a couple's private life is open to the public like this. I can see what he thought of Vera. I can see how he viewed her and what words he uses to describe her.

I am torn between this breach of privacy and the necessity of his words; I am glad this book is there. I see his temptation, his passion, his ire (for lack of money). A great man and loving man. I especially like some of the pictures of the actual letters. But the letters he writes, the words he
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked Boyd's Introduction and the translator's notes much better than Nabokov's letters herein. I have always found him an insufferable bore, though I am completely on board with appreciation of his keen observational abilities and agree that Lolita is one of the most amazing novels ever written. The fact that Vera, his larger-than-life wife, destroyed all her letters to him make reading of his letters unfairly lopsided: he comes across a nag, always wanting more and more affection from a seem ...more
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books, bio
Because with you one needs to talk wonderfully , the way we talk with people long gone, do you know what I mean, in terms of purity and lightness and spiritual precission - but I- je partauge terribly. Yet you can be bruised by an ugly diminutive - because you are so absolutely resonant- like seawater, my lovely. 

I love your eyes- closed- all the little tails of your thoughts, your strechy vowels, your whole soul from head to heels.

And here’s more: you and I are so special; the miracles we know,
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can't really say I read this because it's just too huge, but it's a marvel to dip into. Here's a little sample of Nabokov's imagination:

I never thought I'd dream about Berlin as a heaven on earth (the heaven in the sky is, most likely, quite boring – and there is so much fluff there – seraphims' – that, they say, smoking is forbidden. Sometimes, though, angels themselves smoke – in their sleeves. But when the archangel goes by, they throw their cigarettes away; this is what falling stars are.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Letters to Vera, by Vladimir Nabokov 1 9 Dec 29, 2014 03:52PM  
Letters to Vera, by Vladimir Nabokov 1 3 Dec 29, 2014 03:51PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The American Years
  • Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)
  • The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness
  • Norman Mailer: A Double Life
  • The Noise of Time: Selected Prose
  • Updike
  • Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
  • In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita
  • The Writer's Desk
  • Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West
  • The Buddha's Return
  • Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
  • Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey
  • The Rub of Time: Bellow, Nabokov, Hitchens, Travolta, Trump: Essays and Reportage, 1986-2016
  • Isaiah Berlin: A Life
  • Selected Letters
  • The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars
See similar books…
Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков .

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery, and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequen
“It is late now, I am a bit tired; the sky is irritated by stars. And I love you, I love you, I love you – and perhaps this is how the whole enormous world, shining all over, can be created – out of five vowels and three consonants.” 69 likes
“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.” 51 likes
More quotes…