Dmitri Nabokov

Dmitri Vladimirovich Nabokov (born May 10, 1934) is an American opera singer and translator. He is the only child of writer Vladimir Nabokov and his wife Vera Nabokov, and is currently executor of his father's literary estate.



Dmitri Nabokov was born on May 10, 1934, in Berlin, to Vladimir Nabokov and Vera Slonim Nabokova. Due to Nazi Germany's growing political and social repression and the likelihood that the regime might target the family based on Vera Nabokova's Jewish ancestry, the Nabokovs fled to Paris in 1937, and immigrated to New York City in 1940.[1] Dmitri Nabokov subsequently grew up there, in the Boston area during the years that his father taught at Wellesley College and served as curator of lepidoptery at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology, and in Ithaca while his father taught at Cornell University.

Nabokov entered Harvard College in 1951, lived in Lowell House, and studied History and Literature. Although he scored high on the LSAT and was accepted to Harvard Law School (while still an undergraduate), he declined admission because he was searching for an avocation. After graduating cum laude in 1955, he studied singing (basso) for two years at the Longy School of Music. He then joined the U.S. Army as an instructor in military Russian and as an assistant to a chaplain.[2]

In 1961 Nabokov made his operatic début by winning the Reggio Emilia International Opera Competition, basso division, singing the role of Colline in La bohème (which was also the début of fellow cast member Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo; Pavarotti won the tenor competition).[3] Among the highlights from his operatic career are performances at the Gran Teatre del Liceu with the soprano Montserrat Caballé and the tenor Giacomo Aragall.[4]

In 1980, Nabokov, also a semi-professional racecar driver, was driving a competition-model Ferrari 308 GTB when he crashed in Chexbres, on an autoroute linking Montreux and Lausanne. He not only suffered third-degree burns over 40% of his body, but fractured his neck. Nabokov has said that he temporarily died: "[I am] enticed by a bright light at the far end of the classic tunnel, but restrain myself at the last instant when I think of those who care for me and of important things I must still do."[5] The injuries suffered in the crash effectively ended his operatic career.

Literary career

Nabokov has translated many of his father's works, including novels, plays, poems, lectures, and letters, into several languages. One of his first translations, from Russian to English, was Invitation to a Beheading, under his father's supervision. In 1986, Dmitri published his translation of a novella previously unknown to the public. The Enchanter (Volshebnik), written in Russian in 1939, was deemed "a dead scrap" by Vladimir Nabokov and thought to have been destroyed. The novella has some similarities to Lolita; consequently (though Dmitri does not agree with this assessment) it has been described as the Ur-Lolita ("The Original Lolita"), a precursor to Nabokov's best-known work.[6]

As executor of his father's literary estate, Nabokov also wrestled for 30 years over whether to publish his father's final manuscript, The Original of Laura.[7] It was published by Knopf on November 16, 2009.

In celebration of Vladimir Nabokov's centennial in 1999, Dmitri appeared as his father in Terry Quinn's Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya, a dramatic reading based on the personal letters between Nabokov and literary and social critic Edmund Wilson. Performances took place in New York, Paris, Mainz, and Ithaca.

Although it is well known that Nabokov also writes, he does not share his pen name, unlike his father.[clarification needed][8]

Dmitri is a life-long bachelor and has no children. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and Montreux, Switzerland.


  1. ^ "I Will Sing When You’re All Dead" The Morning News, November 8, 2008. Link to Article
  2. ^ "Nabokov Carries on Father's Legacy," The Harvard Crimson, 6 August 2005. Link to Article
  3. ^ "La Bohème Discography." OperaGlass. 08 Dec 2003. 20 Aug 2006 Link to Article
  4. ^ "Dmitri Nabokov Interview with JOYCE." NABOKV-L. 10 November 2003. Link to Article
  5. ^ Halpern, Daniel, editor, Our Private Lives: Journals, Notebooks, and Diaries, The Ecco Press, 1998, p. 318.
  6. ^ Nabokov, Dmitri. "On a Book Entitled The Enchanter". The Enchanter 1986: 85, 107, 109.
  7. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron (February 27, 2008). "Dmitri Nabokov turns to his dead father for advice on whether to burn the author's last, unpublished manuscript.". Slate. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  8. ^ Swaim, Don (14 October 1986). "Audio Interview with Dmitri Nabokov". Wired for Books. pp. 31:00 passim. Retrieved 31 July 2011. [time needed]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dmitri Nabokov — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Nabokov (homonymie). Dmitri Nabokov Données clés Nationalité  Russie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dmitri Nabokov (ice hockey) — Dmitri Nabokov Born January 4, 1977 (1977 01 04) (age 34) Novosibirsk, USSR Height …   Wikipedia

  • Nabokov — may refer to: Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899–1977), Russian American author, entomologist, and chess problem composer Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (1870–1922), Russian criminologist, journalist, and liberal politician, and father of… …   Wikipedia

  • Nabokov — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Nabokov est un patronyme porté par : Dimitri Nikolaïevitch Nabokov (1826 1904), homme politique russe ; Vladimir Nabokov (1899 1977), écrivain d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nabokov's Butterflies — 1st edition (publ. Allen Lane, UK) Nabokov’s Butterflies is a book edited and annotated by Brian Boyd and Robert Michael Pyle that examines and presents Vladimir Nabokov’s passion for butterflies in his literary presentation. The book contains a… …   Wikipedia

  • Nabokov (homonymie) —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie des personnes (réelles ou fictives) partageant un même patronyme. Patronymes Nabokov (masculin ; Набоков) ou Nabokova (féminin ; Набокова) est un patronyme russe porté par plusieurs personnalités… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nabokov, Vladimir — ▪ American author in full  Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov  born April 22, 1899, St. Petersburg, Russia died July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switz.  Russian born American novelist and critic, the foremost of the post 1917 émigré authors. He wrote in both… …   Universalium

  • Vladimir Nabokov — This article is about the novelist. For his father, the politician, see Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov. This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Vladimirovich and the family name is Nabokov. Vladimir Nabokov Nabokov in 1969 …   Wikipedia

  • Vera Nabokov — Vera Nabókov Nacimiento 5 de enero de 1902  Rusia …   Wikipedia Español

  • Vladimir Nabokov — « Nabokov » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Nabokov (homonymie). Vladimir Nabokov Nom de naissance Vladimir Vladimirovitch Nabokov Activités Écrivain, lépidoptériste Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.