NABOKV-L post 0011923, Sun, 18 Sep 2005 21:32:16 -0700

Re: Fwd: Re: Nabokovian blunders
----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 21:11:17 -0400
From: Andrew Brown <>
Reply-To: Andrew Brown <>
Subject: Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Nabokovian blunders
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum

Do you believe, Jo, that Nabokov was absolutely serious in these remarks,
and did not intend them as satirical exaggerations of the TYPE of comments a
writer of genius might expect from publishers of purely mercenary intent?

If so, what do you make of VN's comment that his preferred choice of reading
material was strictly homosexual? Are you able to suppose that Nabokov
meant he generally preferred the writing of men over the writing of women?
Or did it seem to you that VN, with unsmiling dedication, restricted his
pleasure reading to, say, Isherwood, Burroughs, Bowles, Capote, Auden and
others of like persuasion, perhaps in order to tone up his "gender bending"

I'm curious. If you have time would you be willing to bring to our
attention examples of humorous comment, irony, or exaggeration in VN's work?
Or do you think these are impossible to quote because of their straight
non-existence? Are you aware that some writers, in certain moods, might
indulge the impulse to create suppositious examples with the optimistic
presumption that their reader has sufficient penetration to understand their

Or do you think, as Andrew Field evidently did, that when Nabokov made
reference to a chimp making a drawing of its prison bars, that this was
granite-like fact, and that the newspaper article mentioned really did exist
beyond VN's imagination.

Are you convinced, without qualification, with a staunch and leaden
pedantry, that every statement a writer makes in conversation or print is to
be interpreted with unremitting, fundamentalist literality? And any
statement that cannot be so interpreted is a black and hellish LIE? I'm
curious. As Dickens' Rosa Dartle says, I simply want to know.

Andrew Brown

----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2005 10:49 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Nabokovian blunders

> Re Nabokovian 'blunders'
> Dear Anthony
> In her award-winning biography of Vera Nabokov Stacy Schiff discussed
> several uneasy questions relating to Nabokov's account of his early
> interactions with the US publishers Viking, Simon and Schuster, New
> Directions, Farrar and Straus and Doubleday. Regarding the 'girl/boy'
> exchange alluded to by Nabokov in his famous postscript, Schiff concluded:
> "None of them (i.e. US publishers) appears in any shape or form to have
> suggested the author transform his twelve-year-old into a boy, or Humbert
> into a farmer, as Nabokov later claimed." (p. 206)
> This ruse was only one of several 'untruths' propagated by Nabokov in "On
> Book Entitled Lolita." Centerwall has paid attention to several other
> misleading statements made by VN in his postscript. I have contributed
> comments and observations on this matter in SNLR.
> Another dimension to VN's 'gender-bending' strategy involved VN himself
> dressing up in anagram guise as Vivian Darkbloom, the silent mistress of
> Lolita's early abuser, Clare Quilty. The autobiographical reverberations
> attached to this particular cryptic crossword style clue are, I would
> suggest, highly significant.
> Jo Morgan
> Sydney
> ----- End forwarded message -----

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