Vladimir Nabokov stirred up a storm of controversies in his lifetime and even long after. Check out this brief list of some of his biggest scandals.
1. The Lichberg Myth: Did Nabokov plagiarize Lolita and The Waltz Invention from Heinz von Lichberg's short story collection, The Cursed Gioconda? The two men are likely to have known one another. For details, check out Michael Maar's book The Two Lolitas.
2. Lolita: Lolita itself stirred huge controversy when it was first published, and has continued to do so ever since. NPR, the New York Times, and Slate have all published some excellent summaries of the scandalous novel's reception.
3. "Pale Fire" the poem: When the novel was first published, readers and critics took for granted that Nabokov had intended the poem as pastiche. Ron Rosenbaum argues that he didn't. Follow up with Stephen J. Gertz's counterargument.
4. Nabokov versus Sartre: Sartre negatively reviews Despair; Nabokov attacks Sartre. The two figureheads of 20th-century culture always held diametrically opposed views, and their dispute was inexorable. Read a breakdown of the conflict here.
5. Nabokov versus Wilson: Edmund Wilson was the biggest literary critic in America when Nabokov arrived on the scene in 1940. Nabokov's composer cousin asked his friend Wilson to help his cousin out; Wilson hooked Vladimir up with the New Yorker, introduced him to his first American published, and got him a Guggenheim Fellowship. They were friends for years, their letters even collected in Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya. Then they comically clashed over the translation of the Russian word pochuya, and the divide was never healed. Check out The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship for all the details.