The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov. A startling look at Nabokov’s life and works, notably Pale Fire and Lolita, delivering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic authors.

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov witnessed the horrors of his century, escaping Revolutionary Russia then Germany under Hitler, and fleeing France with his Jewish wife and son just weeks before Paris fell to the Nazis. He repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to human suffering to write artful tales of depravity. But what if Nabokov was up to far more than readers ever imagined?

nabokov_photos_vn_visaUsing information from newly declassified intelligence files and recovered military history, author Andrea Pitzer argues that far from being a single-minded advocate of art for art’s sake, Vladimir Nabokov managed to hide disturbing history in his fiction.

Seen through this lens, Nabokov emerges as a documentary conjurer, spending the most productive decades of his career recording a saga of forgotten concentration camps and searing bigotry. From Tsarist courts to Nazi film sets, from CIA front organizations to wartime Casablanca, the story of Nabokov’s family is the story of his century—and both are woven inextricably into his fiction.


A few of the things critics said about The Secret History:

“[Pitzer] has done much exemplary primary research, and this book forces one to consider several fascinating quandaries presented by Lolita and Pale Fire.”
The New York Review of Books

“Pitzer, like Nabokov, is a beautiful writer and gimlet-eyed observer, especially about her subject…”
The Boston Globe

“Pitzer [shows], history—if not politics—was never far from Nabokov’s considerations.”
The New Republic

“Without question, the horrors of the 20th century have always rumbled beneath the surface of Nabokov’s novels, and Pitzer’s new book is a fine guide to their nightmarish underbelly.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Pitzer’s research here is astounding.”
The Brooklyn Rail

“A seminal work of painstaking research and scholarship…”
Midwest Book Review

See archival documents on Nabokov, as well as essays about his life and writing, and read more about the book at its dedicated website, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov.