Our Notes & References
First edition of Nabokov’s first novel: an attractive example, in its original wrappers with the fragile spine label.
A partly autobiographical work set during the peak of the Russian emigration to Berlin in 1924, it contains descriptions of the young Nabokov’s first serious romance as well as that of the Nabokov family estate. The story unfolds from a Berlin boarding-house filled with an assortment of eccentric Russian émigrés. Lev Ganin, an energetic young officer poised between his past and his future, relives his first love affair. His memories of Mary are suffused with the freshness of youth and the idyllic ambience of pre-revolutionary Russia. In stark contrast is the decidedly unappealing boarder living in the room next to Ganin’s, who, he discovers, is Mary’s husband, temporarily separated from her by the Revolution but expecting her imminent arrival from Russia…
The contemporary critic A. S. Izgoev wrote of the work: “This is a page not only in the biography of a young author, but also in the history of Russian literature, and not merely its émigré branch. Mashenka has about it something of the national self-awareness of the Russian intelligentsia” (quoted by Andrew Field, Nabokov: His Life in Art). After attending a reading another critic, Yuli Aykhenvald, declared Nabokov “a new Turgenev”.
Hans Nentmann (or similar; modern pencil inscription to upper fly-leaf).