Celebrities in Switzerland: Vladimir Nabokov
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Nabokov, Vladimir (1899 - 1977) Russia / Writer / VD

The Russian writer was born in 1899 to a wealthy family from St Petersburg. By the age of seven, he could speak French and English fluently. His happy childhood was shattered by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, which forced noble families into exile. After traveling through Europe, he left for the United States. He taught at the university level and published his first novels, including the famous Lolita in 1955, which was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962.

Nabokov and his wife Vera decided to settle indefinitely in Switzerland and began to search for a permanent residence that would be close enough to Milan, where their son Dimitri sang at the Opera, and not far from Geneva, where they had family. In 1961, they moved to the top floor of the Cygne wing of the Montreux Palace, where Nabokov continued his writing. The international success of Lolita provided him with a permanent income.

In their eyes, Lake Geneva was like the Mediterranean Sea. Nabokov could gaze upon it at leisure from their luxurious six-room suite that his wife Vera affectionately called our permanent headquarters. Wary of translators, he rewrote his own novels in Russian with the help of his son. When he wasn't writing, Vladimir Nabokov liked to chase butterflies along the shores of Lake Geneva. It is said that while he was out for a walk in Lausanne, he ran into his Swiss governess who had taught him French in Russia in 1905. Over the years, she had become half deaf, and so the writer gave her a hearing aid.

The author of Lolita died in 1977 and his valuable butterfly collection was bequeathed to the Zoology Museum in Lausanne. The museum curators required 14 years of work to appraise this extremely abundant collection. Vladimir and Vera Nabokov now lie in the cemetery in Clarens, near Montreux.

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