Beam to talk about ‘The Feud’

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Author Alex Beam will discuss his book “The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship” at the Claremont Hotel on Thursday, July 13, at 8:15 p.m.

“The Feud” tells the story of the fascinating, quarter-century friendship between Nabokov, the Russian-American writer, and Edmund Wilson, a leading literary critic of the mid-20th century.

Like many good things, this intimate friendship came to a bitter end as the two friends became estranged over disagreements about Nabokov’s career-making novel “Lolita,” which Wilson hated; about Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel “Doctor Zhivago,” which Nabokov loathed (He thought Pasternak was a KGB agent) and about politics – Nabokov wrote fan letters to President Nixon and Johnson. Wilson despised them both.

Wilson peremptorily severed the friendship with a famous, 6,500-word attack on Nabokov, which Beam called “an overlong, spiteful, stochastically accurate, generally useless but unfailingly amusing hatchet job.” Eric Bennett called the book “unfailingly amusing, not overlong, winningly useless and not entirely free of spite for Wilson, who, based on the evidence Beam provided, seems to deserve it.”

Beam is a longtime columnist for The Boston Globe and the author of six books: two novels and four works of nonfiction. Two of his books, “Gracefully Insane,” about the McLean psychiatric hospital, and “A Great Idea at the Time,” an account of the Great Books Movement, were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. “The Feud” was a finalist for the 2017 Biographers International Organization Plutarch award.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Call 244-5036.

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