Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle.

First edition of Vladimir Nabokov's Ada or Ardor; warmly inscribed by him to his cousin with an elaborate drawing of a butterfly

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle.

NABOKOV, Vladimir.


Item Number: 124381

London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969.

First English edition of Nabokov’s most ambitious work and one of his greatest masterpieces. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper to his close cousin, Anya Feigin in Russian in Montreux, Switzerland, dated October 1970. Nabokov has also added an elaborate drawing of a butterfly, hand-colored in black, yellow, green, purple, and red. An accomplished lepidopterist, Nabokov only included butterfly drawings in books inscribed to those especially important to him. The closer the connection, the more elaborate the drawing. The recipient, Anya Feigin, invited the Nabokov family to move into her home in Berlin following their exile from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the February Revolution. After a brief stay in England, during which Nabokov enrolled in Trinity College of the University of Cambridge, his family accepted Anya’s invitation. Nabokov followed two years later, after completing his studies at Cambridge, and in 1922 his father was fatally shot in Berlin by Russian monarchists as he was trying to shield the real target, a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party-in-exile. After his father’s death Nabokov’s mother and sister moved to Prague, but he stayed in Berlin, where he had become a recognized poet and writer in Russian within the émigré community and, in 1923, met his wife Véra Evseyevna Slonim at a charity ball in Berlin. In May 1940, the Nabokovs, with Anya and her husband, fled the advancing German troops, reaching the United States via the SS Champlain. Following successful tenures at Wellesley College and Cornell Univerisity and the publication of his masteripiece Lolita, Nabokov and Vera moved to Montreaux, Switzerland. When Anya’s husband passed away, leaving her alone in Manhattan in a state of declining heath, Vera had her flown to Montreaux to ensure she was cared for. The Nabokovs set her up in a home near their apartment in The Palace Hotel, and for the remaining 18 months of her life they visited her multiple times a week. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Author photograph by Philippe Halsman. An exceptional association.

Published two weeks after his seventieth birthday, Ada or Ardor is one of Nabokov's greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist. Scholar Alfred Appel, writing in The New York Times Book Review, declared it "a great work of art, a necessary book, radiant and rapturous" and instisted that it "provides further evidence that he is a peer of Kafka, Proust and Joyce." An avid (and professional) collector of butterflies, Nabokov named the title character, Ada, in part after his favorite butterfly, Appias ada, the rare albatross butterfly found on the Moluccas, New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia and the Solomon Islands. Ada tells the life story of a man named Van Veen, and his lifelong love affair with his sister Ada. They meet when she is eleven (soon to be twelve) and he is fourteen, believing that they are cousins (more precisely: that their fathers are cousins and that their mothers are sisters), and begin a sexual affair. They later discover that Van's father is also Ada's and her mother is also his.

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