BILINGUALISM Vladimir Nabokov insisted that a writer must be identified by his special pattern or unique coloration, and he was exasperated by attempts to force him into national and linguistic pigeon holes. “Nobody can decide if I’m a middleaged American writer, or an old Russian writer-or an ageless international freak,” he once complained (SO 106). But to agree that Nabokov should be identified by his unique coloration is not to say that he was totally unclassifiable. Nabokov should be seen as one of the most distinctive twentieth-century examples of a category once widespread and now almost extinct: the bilingual, or, in Nabokov’s case, the trilingual, writer.