A Russian Beauty and Other Stories
A Russian Beauty and Other Stories

NABOKOV, Vladimir. A Russian Beauty and Other Stories.

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Inscribed by Nabokov to the Philosopher Max Black.

NABOKOV, Vladimir. A Russian Beauty and Other Stories. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.

8vo, black publisher's cloth embossed with title and author to upper board and lettered in silver to spine; upper edge red, else uncut; original dust wrapper; pp. [xii], 268, [viii]; some sunning to spine of wrapper, which also has a few nicks (inside front flap subtely repaired with tape); inside of wrapper very lightly yellowed; a little browning to edges of ffep; still a very good copy in like dust wrapper.
First collected edition, inscribed by Nabokov to the half-title "with kindest regards from Vladimir Nabokov". The inscription is most likely intended for Max Black, the British-American analytical philosopher whose signed bookplate is tipped in to this collection.
A Russian Beauty was one of many short stories which was penned by Nabokov between the years of 1924 and 1940, while he was living in Berlin. The translation is mostly by his son, Dmitri Nabokov, with the title story translated by Simon Karlinsky, both in collaboration with the author. Nabokov had originally written under the psedonymn 'Vladimir Sirin', and many of the stories had previously appeared in newspapers and periodicals, including The Leonardo, (originally Korolyyok in Posledniye Novosti, Paris, 1993), Lips to Lips (Vesna v Fialte, 1956) and The Potato Elf (Rul, 1929). The volume is dedicated to his wife, Vera.
Max Black was a philosopher of language, mathematics, science and art. He studied mathematics at Queens' College, Cambridge where he developed an interest in the philosophy of mathematics. His peers at the time included Russell, Wittgenstein, G. E. Moore and Ramsey, and their influence on Black was considerable.
When the Nabokov's moved to Ithaca, New York, in the late 1950s, they happened to settle as neighbours to Black. Noticing Nabokov's smile one morning, Black asked him why he was feeling so happy. Nabokov replied that he had been revising the French translation of Lolita, and he had just hit upon a beautiful equivalent for the word "cheerleader". On another occasion, Nabokov helped push Black's car out of a snow drift, an occasion which seems likely to have inspired a scene in Pale Fire where a character's fall dislodges a car from its snowy rut. They also played chess together, although Black was altogether a better player, and won on almost every occasion. (Boyd, 1991).
A fascinating association copy.