Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (22 April 1899 – 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and entomologist. Born in Russia, he wrote his first nine novels in Russian (1926–1938) while living in Berlin. He achieved international acclaim and prominence after moving to the United States and beginning to write in English. Nabokov became an American citizen in 1945, but he and his wife returned to Europe in 1961, settling in Montreux, Switzerland.
A 2007 Modern Library list ranked Lolita (1955) fourth, Pale Fire (1962) 53rd, and Speak, Memory (1951) eighth among the 20th century's greatest nonfiction; he was a seven-time National Book Award finalist.
Nabokov was also an expert in lepidoptera and composed chess problems.He is known as one of the leading prose stylists of the 20th century; his first writings were in Russian, but he achieved his greatest fame with the novels he wrote in the English language. As a trilingual (also writing in French, see Mademoiselle O) master, he has been compared to Joseph Conrad; Nabokov, however, disliked both the comparison and Conrad's work. He lamented to the critic Edmund Wilson, "I am too old to change Conradically" – which John Updike later called, "itself a jest of genius". This lament came in 1941, when Nabokov had been an apprentice American for less than one year. Later in a November 1950 Wilson letter, Nabokov offers a solid, non-comic appraisal: "Conrad knew how to handle ready-made English better than I; but I know better the other kind. He never sinks to the depths of my solecisms, but neither does he scale my verbal peaks. Nabokov translated many of his own early works into English, sometimes in cooperation with his son Dmitri. His trilingual upbringing had a profound influence on his artistry.