NABOKV-L post 0020014, Tue, 11 May 2010 13:32:08 -0700

Pasternak, Bunin & Nabokov
On May 10, 2010, at 5:30 AM, Alexey Sklyarenko wrote: As to Carolyn's
quiz, my guess is Bunin. Btw., an oriole (ivolga) also appears in one
of his poems (like VN, I prefer Bunin's poetry to his "velvet" prose).

Very interesting response, Alexey. Actually, Don Johnson pounced on it
correctly. The few sentences are indeed taken from the opening pages
of Dr Zhivago. Now how did Don know that? and so quickly, too? We'll
have to ask him.

Back to Bunin - - interesting response especially because like Bunin,
Pasternak was possibly a greater poet than novelist - - but I say that
not passing judgement on Zhivago as did Don. In fact anyone who can
write Russian prose that reads so beautifully even in translation
can't possibly be worthy of the ridicule heaped on Pasternak by Nabokov.

In fact a few days ago I decided to re-read Zhivago after lo these
many decades (is it 3? no, 4), because I'm reading a book where the
problem of Nabokov's attitude to Pasternak is discussed, and I thought
I had better look at Zhivago again.

The reason I sent in those lines is because of how they impressed me,
I certainly had not remembered Pasternak's prose as marvelous as it
is. Also, I personally would place Pasternak as a poet on the same
plane as Mandelshtam - - a very high plane indeed. I shame-facedly
admit that I haven't read Bunin - neither his poe nor his proe.

The other reason Alexey's choice is interesting is that, like Bunin ,
Pasternak became a pet peeve of Nabokov - - or am I wrong about Bunin?
can't find anything definite in the archives. Now the question is why?
If Zhivago is as execrable as Nabokov and Don think, in what way is it

The question about VN & Pasternak came up in the book I am reading -
- a fascinating discussion about Russian/Soviet culture/politics in
each other's contexts. It begins with Tolstoy and Chekhov (things I
had never read especially about the latter) and later on discusses the
importance of the Nobel prize to Russia and Russian literature, and
Nabokov's disappointments in that direction.


p.s. almost forgot to mention - - the book is The Magical Chorus: a
history of Russian culture from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn by Solomon
Volkov. The title is taken from Akhmatova I believe.

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