I also found a book of Nabokov's short stories which I know belonged to my first husband, but which I must have justified keeping because he hadn't signed it. I have never liked Nabokov; his cruelty to his characters and his readers is unsettling and repellent to me. But I remember, when this volume was published in the late 1990s, reading some excerpts in the New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and finding them wonderful. So last night, I re-read one that I remembered as especially moving, "Cloud, Castle, Lake," which can be found in its entirety here. I still loved it, though perhaps not quite as well as I did ten years ago. Nabokov's coldness is nowhere apparent here, and though he touches on his frequent topic of human cruelty, it is clear that he is just as bemused by the sadism of the proto-Nazis toward the little Russian refugee, full of love and longing, as is his narrator; and Vasily Ivanovich's hopefulness and humility, and his striving to find beauty and redemption in the natural world, are treated by Nabokov with tenderness rather than contempt. In fact, the character of Vasily Ivanovich reminded me of one of my favorite books, My Friends by Emmanuel Bove.
I do not think I will read this book again, though, and will probably put it up on BookMooch.
Above: Nabokov with his wife Véra and their only son, Dmitri, who, in addition to translating his father's Russian-language works, had a prominent career as an operatic bass.