Prema riječima Nabokova, Dar je njegov najbolji roman na ruskom jeziku i najoriginalniji od svih romana iz njegovog berlinskog opusa, a ljubavna priča unutar romana je ljubavna priča samog Nabokova.
Nabokov was born on 22 April 1899 (10 April 1899 Old Style), in Saint Petersburg,b to a wealthy and prominent family of minor nobility. He was the eldest of five children of liberal lawyer, statesman, and journalist Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov and his wife, Elena Ivanovna née Rukavishnikova. His cousins included the composer Nicolas Nabokov. He spent his childhood and youth in St. Petersburg and at the country estate Vyra near Siverskaya, to the south of the city.
Nabokov's childhood, which he had called "perfect", was remarkable in several ways. The family spoke Russian, English, and French in their household, and Nabokov was trilingual from an early age. In fact, much to his patriotic father's chagrin, Nabokov could read and write in English before he could in Russian. In Speak, Memory Nabokov recalls numerous details of his privileged childhood, and his ability to recall in vivid detail memories of his past was a boon to him during his permanent exile, and provided a theme that echoes from his first book Mary to later works such as Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. While the family was nominally Orthodox, they felt no religious fervor, and Vladimir was not forced to attend church after he lost interest. In 1916, Nabokov inherited the estate Rozhdestveno, next to Vyra, from his uncle Vasiliy Ivanovich Rukavishnikov ("Uncle Ruka" in Speak, Memory), but lost it in the October Revolution one year later; this was the only house he ever owned.