Vladimir Nabokov’s wife, Véra, was his first reader and his aesthetic barometer, as revealed by his passionate letters to her, published now for the first time.
Early in 1937 Nabokov had begun an affair with Irina Guadanini, an aspiring poet. Someone clearly tipped off Véra as Nabokov’s letters become defensive and deceptive.
“I forbid you to be miserable,” he wrote. “I love you and… there’s no power in the world that could take away or spoil even an inch of this endless love. And if I miss a letter for a day it’s only because I absolutely can’t cope with the crookedness and twists of time I’m living in now. I love you.”
Mmm. Thank you.
“I won’t hide it: I am so unused to the idea of people, well, understanding me - so unused to it that in the very first minutes of our meeting it seemed to me that this was a joke, a masquerade deception….There are just some things that are difficult to talk about - one brushes off their wondrous pollen by touching them with words….Yes, I need you, my fairy tale. For you are the only person I can talk to - about the hue of a cloud, about the singing of a thought, and about the fact that when I went out to work today and looked each sunflower in the face, they all smiled back at me with their seeds.”— Letter from Vladimir Nabokov to Véra, Véra by Stacy Schiff