It's a stretch to say that Nabokov really loved any particular author, but there were plenty he admired and of whom he was fond. Culled from his book Strong Opinions, this is Part Three of a five-part series on authors whom Vladimir Nabokov most nearly loved. Read Part One here and Part Two here.
21. Ilif and Petrov: These two Soviet writers did almost all of their writing together. Of them, Nabokov wrote, "Two wonderfully gifted writers. Absolutely first-rate fiction." He also references them in Pale Fire, calling them "joint authors of genius" among "such marvelous Russian humorists as Gogol, Dostoevsky..."
22. Georgy Ivanov: "A good poet," Nabokov wrote, "but a scurrilous critic."
23. James Joyce: Nabokov famously had mixed feelings about Joyce, but in Strong Opinions he wrote of him, "Great. A favorite between the ages of 20 and 40, and thereafter. Let people compare me to Joyce by all means, but my English is patball to Joyce's champion game. A genius." While he disliked Finnegans Wake (called it "Punnigans Wake"), he loved Ulysses and taught it in his classes, calling it "a divine work of art" and the "greatest masterpiece of 20th century prose."
25. John Keats: "A favorite between the ages of 10 and 15, and thereafter."
26. Vladislav Khodasevich: Nabokov called him "the greatest Russian poet of his time."
27. Osip Mandelshtam: "A wonderful poet, the greatest in Soviet Russia," Nabokov wrote of Mandelshtam. "His poems are admirable specimens of the human mind at its deepest and highest."
28. Herman Melville: "Love him," Nabokov wrote. "One would like to have filmed him at breakfast, feeding a sardine to his cat."
29. John Milton: Nabokov called him a genius.
30. Yury Olesha: Nabokov called his work "some absolutely first-rate fiction."