Spurred on by admiration for his novelist half-brother and irritation at the biography written about him by Mr Goodman ('his slapdash and very misleading book'), the narrator, V, sets out to record Sebastian Knight's life as he understands it. But buried amid the extensive quoting, digressions, seeming explanations and digs, Sebastian's erratic and troubled persona remains as elusive as ever. Nabokov's first novel written in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is a nuanced, enigmatic potrayal of the conflict between the real and the unreal, and the futile quest for human truth.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was born in St Petersburg. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence as a masterly prose stylist for the novels he composed in English, most famously, Lolita. Between 1923 and 1940 he published novels, short stories, plays, poems and translations in the Russian language and established himself as one of the most outstanding Russian emigre writers.