“Did I ever mention that her bare arm bore the eight of vaccination? That I loved her hopelessly? That she was only fourteen? An inquisitive butterfly passed, dipping, between us.”
Handwritten draft dedicated to Vera Evseevna Slonim, Nabokov’s wife. In the summer of 1948, Nabokov wrote the firsts texts of a novel, drafted on the back of his entomology index cards. This drafts were for his most famous work: Lolita.
Vera ended her own budding career as a writer to support her husband as critic, reader, and typist, and sustained the family through her work as secretary and translator. After moving to the United States of America in 1940, she learned to drive and chauffeured her husband on many field trips, notably in the North American West, to hunt butterflies. To protect him she carried a handgun. Nabokov relied on her in his work and “would have been nowhere without her.” During his lectures, she would sit in the front row. She was his inspiration, editor, and first reader; all his works are dedicated to her. Lolita was saved by her from the flames more than once. However, personal letters pertaining to her and her marriage were destroyed.