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The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971, edited by Simon Karlinsky. New York: Harper Colophon Books. $6.95.

This collection of 250 letters traces the evolution of the views and attitudes that brought novelist Vladimir Nabokov and author-critic Edmund Wilson together as friends, and later set them apart professionally. Wilson's literary contacts helped the Russian Nabokov begin his second career as a novelist writing in English, while discussions with Nabokov aided Wilson's own critical work in Russian literature and culture. Their arguments sprang from differences over Lenin, Russian iambics, and the handling of social and economic issues in literature. Yet throughout this intriguing correspondence, beneath spirited debates, a mutual love for intellectual wrestlings with art sustains their friendship, expressed in gruff respect.

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