The descriptive bibliography of the works of Vladimir Nabokov comprises 14 major sections lettered A through N.
At the heart of the bibliography is the A section, a group of more than 68 items. An A item is determined in one of two ways:
- A separate publication wholly or mostly by Nabokov within which appears at least one Nabokov work which has never appeared in a separate publication before is an A item. A work, in this case, is any Nabokov composition which is not related to other material in the separate publication. A new preface, for example (such as in the 1964 Time reissue of Bend Sinister with Nabokov’s new introduction), does not make the reissue of an old novel a new A item. A separate publication is a non-serial—that is, non-periodical—publication which stands physically alone. Examples are books and brochures, however bound.
- A major Nabokov work appearing in a Russian literary journal for the first time is an A item. A major Nabokov work is one that would normally occupy most or all of the contents of a separate publication. Examples are novels, full-length plays, memoirs, and translations. (The special significance of the Russian literary journal is discussed later.)
The ordering of A items is chronological by first publication. Under each A item are the separate editions of the A item which have been published through 2016. An edition can be a reprinting, a reissue, or a corrected edition. It can be a revision or translation by Nabokov, or in collaboration with him, from the language of original composition. It can also be an edition with a preface, for instance—such as for an old Nabokov novel newly translated by him—or a set of notes—such as for a previously published novel. This is also true of a translation or revision of a previously published work. The ordering of the different editions under an A item is chronological.
This A section constitutes the “books of the author”. The 14 other sections encompass different published or publicly presented forms of Nabokov’s works.
Section B contains separate publications with contributions by Nabokov which had never appeared in separate publication before. C items are serial or periodical appearances, D items are translations of Nabokov’s books by others; E items are prepublication copies of A items; F items are Braille and recorded editions of A items; G items are adaptations such as motion pictures, plays, musicals, recordings, and other such productions; H items are interviews; I items are drawings, ephemera, and miscellanea; J items are piracies, K items are books fully or substantially about Nabokov and his works; L are compilations of works that appeared in A items; M items are compilations of works that appeared in D items, that is, translations of A items; and, N items are digital versions of Nabokov’s works, such as ebooks.