THE GIFT The Gift (.Dar, 1937-38; 1952) is the last, the longest and probably the best of Nabokovs Russian novels. For the first time in his career Nabokov dared to focus his imagination on the character of a fellow-writer, Fyodor GodunovCherdyntsev, a young Russian exile in Berlin who is almost as gifted as his creator (hence the title) and shares with him some childhood reminiscences, idiosyncrasies, and predilections. The novel spans a crucial three-year period in Fyodor s life (the action starts, as Nabokov himself pointed out, on April 1, 1926, and ends on June 29 ,19291) and describes his heroic attempts to come to grips with all the tragic losses that plague his mind and memory: the loss of his beloved father, a famous naturalist who perished in the turmoil of the Civil War on the way back from his last expedition, the loss ofhis homeland, and the loss of a paradisiac past. Fyodor s daily existence is drab and dreary-an alien country, poverty, vile rented lodgings, boring English and French tutorials, humiliating encounters with hated “aborigines,” lonely ramblings over Berlin-but in spite of everything he learns how to say “Yes” to the world and finds happiness in love with Zina Mertz, his ideal bride, reader and Muse, and in the verbal arts that he worships and masters.