Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov’s nostalgic memoir, reflects on his life from the age of three to 41, taking us from early-20th-century Russia, soon to be engulfed by revolution, to Europe at the start of the second world war. He planned a sequel to it, based on his American years, but Speak On, Memory was never written, partly because much of that experience had found an outlet in his novels. As Robert Roper argues in his literary biography, it was America that made Nabokov the master we now admire. Nabokov in America, a detailed account of the 20 years the writer spent there, revisits some of the less widely known facts and draws a number of fresh analogies.
Nabokov, his wife Véra and their son Dmitri arrived in America in 1940, having fled Germany via France: Véra’s Jewishness meant they could no longer stay in Europe.