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ASHES OF GREATNESS

A recent fire that burned down a modest rental home drew little attention until a librarian recalled that Vladimir Nabokov finished his masterpiece "Lolita" there.

Nabokov rented the house in the summer of 1953 and "found Ashland singularly favorable to literary inspiration," Brian Boyd wrote in his 1991 book "Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years."

" 'Lolita' was now purring along steadily," Boyd wrote, "and had reached the point where he could begin to dictate his finished chapters to Vera (his wife) at the typewriter."

The book was published in 1955.

Over the years, the house lost much of its luster as a charming cottage and was turned into three apartments. It burned Saturday when a 19-year-old resident forgot to turn off two burners on the stove, firefighters said.

The Russian-born Nabokov died in 1977 in Switzerland.

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