Critical Context

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Bend Sinister was Nabokov’s second novel written in English, the first being The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941). Before publishing books in the English language, Nabokov published ten others in his native Russian. It was not until the publication of his best-selling Lolita (1955), however, that Nabokov began to receive worldwide attention and acclaim as one of the most important literary figures of the century. Major novels following Lolita are Pnin (1957), Pale Fire, and Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969). Besides novels, Nabokov published short stories, poems, essays, memoirs, and critical works.

Often called the last of the great modernists, the peer of such masters as Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and William Faulkner, Nabokov has just as often been hailed as one of the pioneers of metafiction, the father of such postmodernists as John Fowles, Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, and Gabriel García Márquez. Nabokov’s work has been the subject of numerous books and articles, which have been increasing in number steadily since his death.

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