In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
“The striking thing about her search for God is that she sometimes finds him. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’s second chapter, after a kind of introduction, is titled ‘Seeing.’ There are two kinds, she explains. The common variety is active, where you strain, against the running babble of internal monologue, to pay attention to what’s actually in front of you. But, she tells us, ‘there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.’ You do not seek, you wait. It isn’t prayer; it is grace. The visions come to you, and they come from out of the blue.” On Annie Dillard’s turn to silence.
“Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out.” The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today’s literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.