Correspondence from novelist Vladimir Nabokov to University
of Washington history professor Marc Szeftel will be part of a
fall quarter exhibit at the University of Washington's Allen
Letters between Nabokov and Szeftel -- who
died in 1985 -- are among many artifacts used to celebrate the
centennial and bicentennial of two geniuses of Russian and
American literary culture: Nabokov (born 1899) and Alexander
Pushkin (born 1799).
"Black King, White Knight: A Centennial Celebration of Two
Russian Writers" displays items from the UW Libraries'
collections that highlight Pushkin's and Nabokov's
achievements -as well as their mutual struggles with
censorship and exile.
The exhibit is on display on the Allen's mezzanine level
until the end of fall quarter.
Items on display include a facsimile edition of Pushkin's
sketchbooks, a number of 1920s Nabokov first editions and,
courtesy of Burke Museum, specimens of the butterfly family
Lycaenidae (also known as Blues), on which Nabokov
was an expert.
The correspondence between Nabokov and Szeftel began in the
1940s, when Nabokov and Szeftel were colleagues at Cornell
University. The letters continued after Szeftel, a specialist
in medieval Russian legal history, joined the UW faculty in
Literary legend has it that Szeftel was the model for the
title character of Nabokov's 1953 novel "Pnin," an
absent-minded Russian ?gr?ntellectual.
Two years later, Nabokov wrote his controversial
masterpiece, "Lolita." He died in 1977.
Szeftel died in 1985. His Nabokov letters are part of the
UW Manuscripts and University Archives, said Michael Biggins,
a librarian in the Slavic and East European section.
The exhibit was created by graduate students and faculty in
the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, and
received support from the UW?s Kenneth S. Allen Library