Critical Context

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The Gift, Nabokov’s last Russian novel, is reckoned by its author and by many of his readers as his finest contribution to his native literature. By far the longest and most complex of his Russian works, it is his nearest approach to the tradition of the classical nineteenth century Russian novel. As its protagonist Fyodor says, it is “a novel with ‘types,’ love, fate, conversations... and with descriptions of nature.” It is Nabokov’s farewell to his native literary tradition, a summing up before launching his new career as an American writer in 1940. Only after Nabokov’s international fame for his American novels such as Lolita (1955), Pale Fire (1962), and Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969) did his Russian works, belatedly translated into English, win the attention they richly deserve. The Gift is a fitting monument to Nabokov’s Russian career.

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