NABOKOV, VLADIMIR. 1899-1977.
Ada, or Ardor: a Family Chronicle. New York: McGraw-Hill, . 8vo. Original cloth; dust jacket. Jacket with light edge-wear, short tear to spine panel head repaired on verso.
PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED AND SIGNED WITH BUTTERFLY DRAWING FOR GEORGE HESSEN. Ada is probably Nabokov's greatest novel in English. The inscription is for George Hessen, one of Nabokov's closest friends. His father was Josef Hessen who was editor of the liberal newspaper Rech' in St. Petersburg prior to the family's emigration, and then of Rul' in Berlin. He was a close colleague of Nabokov's father. After the latter was killed while saving Pavel Milyukov from an assassination attempt, the elder Hessen encouraged Nabokov in his writing and indeed became one of his first publishers. He also occasioned the close friendship with his son, George Hessen who became one of Nabokov's most important confidants.
Inscribed works by Nabokov are rare, but the butterfly drawing is a usual motif among them. In this instance, Nabokov diverges from the norm in showing the butterfly alive: alighting on the second "A" of "ADA." In most cases, the butterfly is depicted flat, as already pinned in a collector's case. This copy also bears a presentation card from the publishers on the front free endpaper.